Support tax-funded schools? Then donate your own money.

The Rocky Mountain News published my letter to the editor last week:

Amendment 59 backers should send refunds to schools

Let the “begathon” begin! That’s what educators would need to raise school funding because Amendment 59 failed, said Colorado Association of School Boards director Jane Urschel (“Despite defeat, Ritter aims for budget fix,” Nov. 6).

But fundraising should be easy – if 59’s supporters simply put their money where their vote is. Since 59 failed, taxpayers will receive a refund when the state collects excess taxes. Why not donate it to schools?

Amendment 59 would have sent about $50 million in annual tax surpluses to government schools. Since almost a million Coloradans voted for it, that’s a $50 donation each. As a tax-deductible donation, it’s even less. Just forgo dinner and a movie one weekend.

Surely voters who want government to spend their own tax refund – and everyone else’s – on government schools would donate voluntarily, right? Or would they prefer to support a school of their choice, a scholarship fund, or other causes they deem worthwhile?

In a previous essay I addressed a common argument against the above point of view:

Another common argument in support of [taxing people to pay for schools] is that “we all benefit from it.”… In any case, just because you benefit from something does not mean you must pay for it.  We benefit if others have food, shelter, clothing, and good hygiene, but this doesn’t mean government should force us to buy food, shelter, clothing, and soap for others.

Barbara Steisand(What does this have to do with Barbara Streisand?  She supports tax-funded schools. (Photo credit.))

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