re "Taxes Are Reassessed in Housing Slump as Prices Drop" (NY Times, 12/23/07)
To the editor:
It is exceptionally rare to find a government which deals with declining tax revenue by any method other than trying to scare its citizens into raising tax rates. From “rapists will go free” to “children will starve in the streets”, taxpayers are (or should be) tired of hearing these variations on the same greedy theme.
Declines in home values will no doubt bring another coda, this time something like “If you don’t agree to higher property tax rates to compensate the county for declining home values, we will have to fire teachers and security guards and cut back on school lunches”. In other words, they’ll threaten to make our kids stupid, unsafe, and hungry unless we give them more of our money rather than their finding the sorts of efficiencies that every business and family must make in tough economic times.
Although it’s been a long time since we’ve had a real downturn in the housing market, the funding of public education based on property values has always been a vulnerability. Instead of just coughing up more money for more dismal public school performance, this economic event should be a catalyst for school choice, including changing the system of funding public education.