School spending: The exemption ruse
Pennsylvania's so-called restrictions on school districts' tax hikes are a sad, cruel joke on taxpayers, who certainly aren't laughing.
The state Department of Education has OK'd 199 districts hiking property taxes for 2012-13 without seeking voters' approval.
It granted them exemptions from a 2006 law that requires referendums for tax hikes above a state-set level. And it did so despite 10 previously "valid" exemption reasons being reduced to three for 2012-13 -- construction debt, special education and pension costs.
Never mind that any overall shortfall can be portrayed as a threat to one of those three items because money's fungible, as the Allegheny Institute's Jake Haulk points out. Or that self-serving, taxpayer-shafting interests that have long driven public education's gravy train continue their predictable "draconian cuts" rhetoric, as the Commonwealth Foundation notes.
What's most outrageously puzzling is that a state government controlled by Republicans allows this "exemptions" charade to go on. Where's the legislation to protect taxpayers -- who elected them -- by ending it?
On school taxes, Republicans in Harrisburg must practice what they preach -- and ensure that state education officials do, too.