This post from 2008 is still relevant three years later.
Stop the KRESA Tax
The most important issue on the ballot in Tuesday's election is the KRESA tax hike.
Despite the title, KRESA is simply being used as an intermediary to funnel money to local school districts based in Kalamazoo County. Three years ago, this tax was billed as a one-time emergency measure. Now, the schools want to renew it for another three years.
Advocates of the tax argue that quality education is essential to the community. But no one disputes this. The relevant question is whether passing the tax would improve education. This question is never addressed by advocates of the tax. They have not offered any such evidence.
The Gazette reports that advocates of the tax warn that all sorts of wonderful programs will be cut if the tax is not passed. This is an example of the Washington Monument strategy. That is, when there is a threat of cuts, bureaucrats threaten to cut the most popular programs instead of waste or unnecessary spending. (And why aren't there ever any newspaper stories about parents forced to take lollipops from their children because their taxes increased?)
In fact, the main result of increased school taxes are higher salaries and benefits for school employees. Increasing the salaries of the same people who have provided mediocre education won't help anything.
The biggest waste of tax dollars, though far from the only one, is the MESSA health insurance that the school districts purchase from the Michigan Education Association (MEA). Comparable coverage can be obtained for much less, and the difference goes to the MEA. It pressures school districts to use the expensive coverage. All nine Kalamazoo County school districts do so.
A Kalamazoo Gazette editorial admitted this problem and still urged that the tax be approved.
The primary donors to the campaign for the tax are the very people who stand to gain financially from its passage.
The KRESA tax richly deserves to be rejected.
After the tax was approved three years ago, this blog predicted:
It doesn't take much foresight to see what will happen in the future. Government schools will continue to be mediocre. They will continue to waste money on MESSA insurance and lots of other things. Employee salaries and benefits will continue to increase. And there will be another dire fiscal emergency three years from now demanding renewal of this 'temporary' tax.