The phrases equitable funding and fair share are used a lot by people looking to coerce money from another group of people.
That really hits home this time of year when I get my taxes done. First I would like to complain a little about the complexity of our tax system. I had excellent grades in Calc I, II, III and differential equations in college. I am more than comfortable with the concepts of statistics, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, but the tax code is baffling to me. I hire a CPA to do my taxes. I also do this just so the government gets their "fair share" of my hard earned profits. I don’t mind paying taxes for the services we enjoy. I like the quality military we have as a country (which is where I tell myself where my federal tax dollars go). I like the state being the piggy bank for municipal projects like our sewer treatment plant upgrade, allowing us to save interest locally. I like our nice roads in the state and locally, but those are paid for every time we pay at the pump.
The group that irritates me the most is the public education cabal. This group gets over 50 percent of the state tax dollars plus 1/3 of our local tax dollars and yet they still can’t seem to make it on this. USD 373 is spending almost $14,000 per child per year on educating them, yet my private school can do it for $7,000 per child per year. Maybe it is time to quit paying lawyers to sue the taxpayers (using our taxpayer money to do it) for more money and spend some time looking at where the money is going? We don’t use the state employees to build new roads, it is put out for bid to private contractors. Maybe it is time to figure out a way to get private industry involved in education. When an entity has a monopoly on a service they have little incentive to improve it or be more efficient.
Locally we are spending around $600,000 per year to subsidize the golf course. That is $30 per year per citizen of Newton. I don’t know how many people from Newton play golf there annually, but I bet it isn’t all 20,000 residents. It is an amenity, we are told, and is great for the community. I am glad we have some solid leadership at the city commission and manager level now that is putting the brakes on big spending projects without assurances the citizens won’t be on the hook again.
Back on the subject of income taxes, I have the fortunate position of being self employed and enjoyed some tax breaks the previous several years from the state. This year (for 2017 taxes) our generous representatives Mr. Hodge and Mr. Schroeder and our senator Mrs. McGinn graciously raised the taxes on our small business owners, including myself. Of course just raising the taxes at the usual time of new laws, July 1, wasn’t good enough. They had to make it retroactive to the first of the year. The previous years I spent the money saved on taxes on various improvement projects to my properties like more efficient windows, new HVAC systems, etc. This saves my tenants money in the long run. This year there are thousands of dollars I will be sending the state that my tenants won’t benefit from. This is the law of unintended consequences. Life is full of give and take. It seems like the more we give the government the more they want to take.
— Jason Mitchell is a member of the leadership team of the Harvey County Republican Party. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.