It’s been said that state and local governments are primarily “school districts with police departments;” in most states, education spending supports over half of the public workforce. In many states, repeated and drastic cuts to funding for public education have reduced the living standard of educators and increased their share of health care costs. The results of constant underfunding and the never-ending parade of grandiose, politically motivated reform programs are teacher shortages and low morale. The quality of our schools and the lives of our children and their teachers are impoverished so that politicians can make campaign points.
Teachers represent only half the story – the assault on government and those who work in it extends to every area of public service. As state legislatures have turned increasingly “red,” there has been a wave of tax cuts even after the disastrous hit to state and district revenues from the Great Recession. In Kansas – where the Republican governor and legislature have carried out the Republican dream of ever shrinking government – we see the ugly result of decades of Republican rule.
The Governor and Kansas legislators imposed severe tax cuts and corresponding school and public sector cutbacks under the notion that low taxes would create an economic boom. After taxes were cut and tax revenues fell --- nothing else happened! The economic boom never came. Meanwhile, students, teachers, in fact all Kansans, suffered from severely weakened schools and government services.
Today, even the very conservative citizens of Kansas are pushing back.. New tax increases that partially reverse the damage have passed with Democratic and Republican support. The coming election in November will be a referendum on this draconian experiment in one of the country’s most conservative states.
Wherever you live, support candidates for governor and your state legislature who understand the responsibility of our states to fully fund public education and other important public services. In November, take back your legislatures and begin rebuilding schools, providing up-to-date curricular materials, funding public employee pension programs, and paying the public sector employees a living wage.
Call To Action
- If you live in a state where teachers and other public employees are taking a stand for better wages and adequate funding for public services, show your support. Call your state legislators and write a letter to the editor telling them that you support tax increases to recover lost revenue from the last decade of tax cuts.
- Stay informed about candidates for the state legislature and support those who understand the importance of adequate funding for education and public services.
- VOTE, and get out the vote, IN NOVEMBER!
- If you live in a state where education and public services are adequately funded, be sure to continue support for those who support the public sector. This is a never-ending responsibility of our democracy.
- VOTE in November for candidates who are doing “the right thing” for education and all our public services.
- Every chance you get, remind your state and federal representatives you support PUBLIC EDUCATION.