STATE: Fund education properly

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The League of Women Voters of Idaho believes all children should have equal opportunity to an education that prepares them to be productive citizens.

During the past decade, the Legislature passed tax cuts totaling $1 billion. These arenít really tax cuts. They are tax shifts or expense shifts.

Over those 10 years, school districts around the state ran supplemental property tax levies to try to retain good teachers and keep class sizes reasonable. Those levies have totaled $1.6 billion in property tax increases while the state cut income taxes and gave sales tax exemptions.

Currently, 93 school districts have supplemental levies totaling $194.7 million. The dependence on supplemental levies places students at a disadvantage in districts that cannot pass those levies.

Now the Legislature is looking at limiting school districts to running only one bond or levy per year.

The situation is no better for the university students. In 2001, the state started cutting taxes, and college tuition increased. The state support used to pay 80 percent to 90 percent of college expenses. Now the cost is about 50-50 tuition and state dollars. Seventy percent of students graduate with an average of $26,000 to $36,000 in student loan debt. That debt in Idaho is estimated at $5.7 billion.

Tax cuts are not so great if it is at the expense of our childrenís education.

Contact your legislators and ask them to think beyond their fealty to tax cuts and consider supporting a strong education system ó itís worth the investment.

SUSAN RIPLEY

Moscow

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