by Sam Hieb
OK, I’ve been all over the N&R lately, but what can I say our local paper of record has been writing some very interesting editorials lately, and there’s no sign they’re going to let up as the campaign enters its stretch run.
Today’s editorial links Guilford County’s proposed quarter-cent sales tax hike with teacher salaries, citing an N&R-High Point University poll showing that likely voters believe the 7 percent raise is too little:
Beyond the political implications, the poll suggests a greater appreciation among voters for public education and its critical importance to the economy and quality of life. After all, times are still tough.
How long has it been since many of us had a raise?
The question is, will it translate to support for a proposed sales-tax increase to benefit Guilford County schools? The quarter-cent increase referendum will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot and will simply read as a “for” or “against” vote for a “local and sales use tax rate of one-quarter percent (0.25 percent) in addition to all State and local taxes.” The Guilford County commissioners placed it there as a means to generate as much as $14 million a year for schools. The money would go toward teacher pay, instructional supplies, technology and maintenance and repairs.
If you don’t read carefully you might think the sales tax hike is going specifically toward salary hikes. The last sentence is key —the reality is the money might go toward teacher pay, it might not— especially since $14 million is not really that much money when we’re talking about public schools.
Or — as the Rhino points out once again —-the money might not go toward schools at all:
Those pushing for the tax hike say the money raised – an estimated $12 million to $14 million a year – will go to support Guilford County schools. However, the truth is that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners can use that money for any purpose that strikes their fancy. And no one has to look very far to find examples of elected bodies at first stating that a new revenue stream will be spent on one thing and then diverting the money to some other perceived need.
Something to take into consideration down the stretch.