Tuesday’s vote saw Ohio residents in Cincinnati and Dayton approve tax measures that will provide money for early-childhood education programs in those cities. In Missouri, however, a cigarette tax that would have earmarked money for early learning and that was also backed by Big Tobacco failed.
Cincinnati Property Tax Increase for Preschool
Issue 44, which will raise $48 million a year for five years by increasing city residents’ property taxes, passed 62 percent to 38 percent. The tax increase was backed by Cincinnati Public Schools, which will receive $33 million of new money raised, and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which will oversee the $15 million designated for preschool and create a “preschool expansion organization.” As explained by the Cincinnati Enquirer, money will flow from the preschool expansion organization to the individual preschool providers. As many as 6,000 preschool seats will be available for the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds, according to proponents.
Dayton Income Tax Boost For Early Learning and Other City Programs
Dayton’s Issue 9 raises income tax by a quarter of a percent on people whose jobs are based in the city. It passed 56 to 44 percent. The tax will last for 8 years and will raise an estimated $11 million annually.
Preschool is only one of the programs that will be funded through the increased tax. Street paving, increased police patrols and fire service, and city park maintenance will all be funded through that extra money as well. The Dayton Daily News reports that about $4 million of the money raised by the new income tax will go to early learning, through tuition assistance and improving preschool quality.
Robin Lightcap, the executive director of Learn to Earn, an organization that backed the increase, told the newspaper that “we’ll be providing very intensive coaching in the classroom ... making sure that they have a high-quality curriculum in place and effective classroom behavioral management systems.”
Missouri’s Dueling Cigarette Tax Measures Both Fail
Missouri voters had the choice between two cigarette tax measures on the ballot, one of which would have raised money for early education. Both of them failed. However, the proposed tax increases were seen less as a push for early-childhood education, and more as a battle between large and small tobacco companies.
The Missouri 60-cent cigarette tax would have hiked the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 17 cents—currently the lowest in the nation—to 77 cents a pack by 2020. The money raised through Amendment 3 would have gone to an Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund. It failed 60 to 40 percent.
Large tobacco companies lined up in support of the measure because it would have also closed a loophole that allowed smaller tobacco companies to avoid paying into a multistate court settlement against the tobacco industry. And notably, the Missouri National Education Association did not support the measure, because it would have allowed money to be spent at private and parochial schools.
Smaller tobacco companies were backing a measure that would have increased cigarette taxes by 23 cents a pack for state road improvements. That lost 55-45.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.