Make the Wealthy Pay More for Public Education

While most will be glued to their television tomorrow night to find out who the next president of the United States will be, one particular state has questions in its ballots worth looking at. Yes, the state of Maine is asking whether marijuana should be legalized. That, however, is not the most notable question, in my opinion. Far more outside the ordinary, Maine is also asking its residents if they want a new way of counting votes in which voters may cast ranked choices. In this scheme, multiple rounds of counting are going to be employed in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a winner by majority becomes clear. The state is also proposing that the minimum wage be increased, not just once, but annually until 2020. This blog is on education so the question on Maine's ballots that really catch my attention is question number two: “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?”

Could you imagine if the Philippines asks a similar question in a referendum? Would the answer be an overwhelming "Yes"? After all, only the wealthy pays more and the additional revenue is specifically set for funding basic education. The question seems unfair especially when most of the voters earn less than $200,000 and on top of that, no one can really argue against education funding.

The editorial board at Portland Press Herald actually recommends voting "no".

We want governments to provide sufficient funds for education. We want governments to make sure that the funding is equitable, schools where more children of poverty attend should get more resources. We want governments to prioritize education in their budget. Asking the rich to pay more taxes does look like a very simplified way of looking at a complex problem. I guess we will just have to wait tomorrow evening to see what the citizens of Maine choose.