Under the arcane school funding structures in the U.S., property taxes are a major source of revenue for education. Many school districts in my region ran tax levy votes last month, and in one district, a national anti-tax organization actively campaigned against the levy. They didn’t address any of the needs that school officials outlined. They didn’t speak to the age of the current school buildings or the severe overcrowding as the district grows. They ran entirely on a “no new taxes” campaign.
Partly because of this campaign financed by a national organization, the levy failed, even though most people living in the district could easily have afforded the few hundred dollars of property tax increases.
I thought of this arcane system of school funding when I read this article in yesterday’s paper about Wall Street brokerage firms buying thousands of houses in the area and turning them into rentals for profit. NPR ran a similar story this morning.
The real danger that lower-income families are being priced out of the recovering housing market by these hedge funds is disturbing enough, since equity in one’s home may be the only wealth that many families will ever accumulate.
But can anyone imagine that these investors are going to come out to “support our kids” when neighborhood schools are in dire need of the most basic upgrades?
Or will they instead be posting yet more “no new taxes” sign in the yards of the hundreds of rental houses, all to protect the profits of shareholders living thousands of miles away?