Defeat of Proposed Tax Hikes in N.D. Appears Likely

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Three tax increases approved during the last session of the North Dakota legislature appear to face strong voter resistance going into a Dec. 5 state referendum, education advocates said last week.

Education officials have warned that defeat of the tax proposals, which are trailing badly in public-opinion polls, could pose severe fiscal consequences for the schools.

The measures would increase the state income tax from 14 percent to 17 percent, the sales tax from 3 cents to 4 cents, and the tax on motor-vehicle fuels from 17 cents to 19 cents a gallon.

Despite intensive efforts by education groups and Gov. George Sin4ner to mobilize support for the tax proposals, statewide polls show some 70 percent of residents opposed to higher taxes, said Carol Siegert, an aide to Mr. Sinner.

Opposition to the increases is being led by the Citizens' Bipartisan Coalition, which argues that the state's fragile economy is unable to bear a third tax increase in as many years.

The five other measures on the ballot next week--including a requirement for a comprehensive health-education curriculum--have greater chances of receiving the voters' approval, observers have suggested.

State Aid Cuts

Rejection of the tax proposals8would lead to drastic financial losses for education, argued Bruce Cooper, executive director of the North Dakota Education Association.

Because they were passed as emergency legislation last spring, the sales and income taxes are already being collected statewide.

As a result, noted Ms. Siegert, a rejection of those two tax referrals would constitute a tax reduction and lead to a loss of $33.7 million for elementary and secondary education.

"If the voters say 'no,"' said Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne G. Sanstead, "the state will have to cut aid to districts in foundation payments, transportation, and special education."

About a quarter of all districts in the state will be unable to maintain programs to meet state accreditation levels if funds are cut, Mr. Sanstead estimated. In consequence, the districts under state law could lose an additional 40 percent of their foundation payments.

Mr. Sanstead also warned that the loss of state funds would force local districts to increase their reliance on property taxes. "We're going backward while other states are going forward," he lamented.

But the current anti-tax sentiment is not difficult to understand, education officials said, in light of the state's economic problems.

"With this gloom-and-doom outlook," Mr. Sanstead observed, "it's hard to be positive, and it's even harder to convince voters that the money they pay in taxes will go back out to their districts for their children."

Health Curriculum

Prospects for the controversial health-education curriculum, however, are significantly brighter, according to Mr. Sanstead. Currently, he said, the health curriculum has a 75 percent favorable rating in the polls.

The 25 percent who are against it, Mr. Sanstead hypothesized, are those who are "only focusing on the sex-education portion of the program." But, he pointed out, the curriculum is much broader than that.

The proposed course of study includes information about nutrition, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and safety, as well as about abstinence and aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, he noted.

Vol. 09, Issue 13

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >