Tax dollars have never been designated for personal, private use. Once taxes leave my hands, they stop being MY tax money. Very, very few Idahoans pay the $8,500 in property taxes earmarked toward each public school student in Idaho. A parent’s taxes are not covering the tax funding for the public education of one child.
In fact, Idaho’s 2022 median annual property tax bill was only $1,188. Blaine County leverages the highest property tax rate in Idaho, and their median tax bill was still only $1,977. And only a portion of property tax money is earmarked toward education.
Proposed ESA legislation would provide around $6,000 per child, per year versus the $8,500 actually allotted per public school pupil. The difference in per pupil funds go to the public school system. It doesn’t take an accountant to recognize that individual taxpayers are not footing the bill for even one child’s publicly-funded education. The shortfall is made up by other taxpayers—your neighbors. Those who are single, childless or retired will be required to make up the difference.
When a homeschool family applies for an ESA they increase the school district’s tax revenue. More students mean more taxes will have to be levied to pay for additional private and homeschool students. This not only grows the government, but raises property tax bills as well. It is ultimately a massive redistribution of wealth that penalizes all taxpayers.
What if our Idaho neighbors find that they object to the way their education tax dollars are being spent? When education becomes market-driven the electorate no longer has a say. Non-parents (retirees, single, the childless) are essentially disenfranchised from the education accountability process. If they don’t have school-aged children, in the ESA world, they have no say over how education dollars are spent. They have no recourse, such as they currently do, like calling the school board, or voting a trustee out of office, because doing so won’t change the outcome of how these dollars are spent.
Does funding private and homeschool students change anything about the public school agenda or does it do anything to make that agenda less objectionable? No! But now, through ESAs their agenda will be forced upon private and homeschools. School choice advocates see the movement as an opportunity to consolidate power, allowing the government to control the private sphere.
For further reading: Six Big Problems With Education Savings Accounts by Peter Green, Senior Contributor to Forbes.