By Hugh McQuaid | CTNewsJunkie.com
Economists at the University of Connecticut are suggesting that a statewide property tax might close a more than $1 billion funding gap in the state’s education cost sharing (ECS) formula.
They pitched that idea in their quarterly “Connecticut Economy” report released Thursday (June 13) at the Connecticut Education Association’s (CEA) Hartford offices.
Stan McMillen, a contributing economist, said that for the last five fiscal years, the state has underfunded its share of education funding to municipalities required by statute.
He said when increased special education costs and the costs of the school readiness program are factored in, the shortfall totals around $1.09 billion.
In the report, McMillen weighs several options including increasing the state sales tax to 8.3 percent or hiking income taxes by 13.8 percent.
However, he spends much of the report discussing a more “outside the box” option… enacting a statewide property tax to pay for education.
Asked about potential negative consequences of enacting a new tax, McMillen said it was a “pay me now or pay me later” issue.
McMillen said the first thing companies looking to expand in a state look for is the availability of qualified, educated workforce. He said if Connecticut does not adequately fund education, it will end up with an insufficient “pipeline” of workers as older residents age out of the workforce.
States across the country are competing for the same jobs and shortfalls in education funding impact Connecticut’s competitiveness, he said. He said the state’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap between low and high income family students is well known in other states.
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Posted June 15, 2013 as excerpted/summarized by HTNP Editor Brenda Sullivan
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