by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Nicholas Brake, superintendent of the Owensboro Independent School District in Kentucky, published an op-ed in Education Week titled, “Want to Support Public Schools? Stop Cutting Taxes.” Brake writes,
The fiscal policies being pursued in many states—and at the national level with the tax plan recently signed by the president—are damaging public education at the expense of tax breaks and tax cuts benefitting the wealthiest individuals and businesses. The latest attempt at “tax reform” in Kentucky follows this same model.
Prior to my tenure as superintendent, I served as a local economic development professional and worked closely with business leaders for more than seven years. I recognize the importance of a competitive rate for business, but the evidence simply does not point to tax policy as the driver of economic growth. Instead, we must invest in three areas: K-12 education, higher education, and public infrastructure. [Emphasis added]
According to Pope Foundation President John Hood, years of peer-reviewed research suggests that tax policy is a driver of economic growth. Hood points out,
Conservatives are quite right to argue that state tax relief is good for economic growth. While some studies conclude otherwise, the preponderance of peer-reviewed research finds a negative relationship between state taxes and measures such as job creation and income growth.
But he also warns that tax cuts must be offset by spending decreases, and it takes time to realize the economic benefits of tax cuts. Nevertheless, lawmakers don’t just cut taxes for the sake of cutting taxes. They have a legitimate empirical justification for doing so.
Of course, Brake does not address the spending side of the equation. It’s much easier to call for raising taxes than it is to identify ways to reroute existing revenue to his preferred “investments.”