|America's independent, non-partisan advocate for overburdened taxpayers.||Home | Donate | RSS | Log in|
Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!
NTU's new State Affairs Manager Lee Schalk joins Doug & Manzanita (in Pete's absence) to discuss state taxpayer issues that are still popping up despite the summer heat. Also the 'Fiscal Five' & 'Outrage of the Week!'4 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
In Alabama, Even a 6.8% Spike in Education Funding not Enough
Last week, startling news for taxpayers emerged from the Heart of Dixie. From October to June, tax collections for Alabama’s Education Trust Fund totaled $4.25 billion, representing an increase of 6.8 percent. This is an increase of $269.9 million from the same period a year earlier. This extra revenue should be more than enough to support Alabama’s public schools and colleges, right?
Not so fast! Turns out state lawmakers budgeted for $5.67 billion to be spent from the trust fund’s coffers by the end of the fiscal year, representing an additional 6.3% on top of the steadily growing tax collections. This is the same trust fund from which tax credits for production companies filming in Alabama will be drawn after a Senate panel approved an increase this March. Apparently state legislators are still bitter that Forrest Gump and Sweet Home Alabama weren’t filmed on location and they want to ensure that such a travesty never happens again.
That tax credit isn’t the only one drawn against revenue in the “Education” Trust Fund. During the 2011 legislative session, the Alabama Senate approved credits for industrial projects as well. These tax credits were expected to total $80 million per year.
Alabama’s economy, like most states across the country, is struggling and taxpayers are suffering under the weight of a government that grew by a staggering 30 percent from 2000-2010. Instead of implementing wide-ranging tax reform that lowers burdens on all businesses and individuals and using the Education Trust Fund for, you know, education services, the state has chosen to draw it down in part for the creation of a slew of tax credits that try to pick winners and losers.
Taxpayers should rightly be angry with their representatives. When revenue jumps 6.8 percent and it’s still not enough to fund the spending budgeted by the legislature, you have a spending problem.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
You’ve Been Co-signing Student Loans, and A New Bill is Due
In a continuation of the trend of strapping government-funded endeavors to the backs of taxpayers: tax dollars will persist as the patchwork solution to the financial woes of debt-laden undergrads.
In order to sustain the 3.4 percent federal student loan interest rate established in 2007 (avoiding a hike to 6.8 percent), taxpayers will fork over $6 billion dollars, effective July 1, 2012. Although $6 billion might sound like a total that would radically alter the situation, this temporary-in-nature effort will only save loan-seeking students, on average, $7 per month. Yet another government intervention that promises lost of costs for taxpayers and minimal (if any) benefit for a specific group. That is, if the continued march of rising tuition prices does not swallow the small relief whole.
Ironically, it is the massive subsidizing of higher education by government that keeps forcing more students to grasp for student loans - and now the whole unsustainable mess threatens to hammer taxpayers (almost like TARP for academia).
The Heritage Foundation offers some suggestions to the crisis from a fiscally-conservative perspective: increased utilization of private scholarships, online education programs, private lenders, and consideration of the risk-factor/graduation potential of college students receiving federal loans (currently no academic ability or outlook is taken into account). All that, plus limiting the government’s inflationary involvement in student loans.
College aid is minimally effective when coupled with tuition increases. The arena of higher education is one that the free market is fully capable of reforming without resorting to the pockets of taxpayers.
From June 2010-2011, $104 billion in federal student loans were backed by taxpayers. Adding to the madness, the current proposed $6 billion taxpayer financed relief to an already outrageous amount of funding would only affect a small fraction of students. Students who have previously received federal loans will not experience this rate decrease, and will be limited to borrowers who have taken out Stafford and a select few other loans.
Bearing in mind the narrow benefits of prolonging this rate reduction and broad taxpayer cost, one would hope Congress starts to see the light on student loan reform.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
National School Choice Week is right around the corner!
Starting on January 22nd and running through the 28th, School Choice Week is a nationwide effort by a nonpartisan coalition of supporters, from schools to organizations like NTU, to highlight the need for education reform - particularly the right of parents to determine where their child goes to school.
The National Taxpayers Union is one of over 200 partner organizations participating in this year’s National School Choice Week. We encourage everyone to visit schoolchoiceweek.com and particularly the events page. The website features opportunities to demonstrate your support for school choice, and learn more about the movement. There are around 300 events currently scheduled, so there is likely one very near you!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
NEA Praises Ron Paul -- Not April Fool's
It has the makings of an April Fool's joke. The National Education Association's Education Insider newsletter for April 1st praises eight Republicans who voted against the DC school voucher program, including Congressman Ron Paul, aka Dr. "No".
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of NEA cyberlobbyists, we were able to keep the vote close and secure the votes of eight Republicans, who bucked their Party leadership to oppose the voucher bill – Representatives Biggert (IL), Dold (IL), Graves (MO), Griffith (VA), Johnson (IL), LoBiondo (NJ), Paul (TX), and Reichert (WA). [emphasis in original]
I scrolled all the way to the bottom of the newsletter expecting an "April Fool's" but there wasn't one. If Ron Paul can bring the NEA around to his point of view on fiscal policy and government spending, he deserves some kind of award -- no fooling.
1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Bills Hiring 100,000 Teaching Assistants and Cutting $39 Billion In Latest Tab
NTUF is hot on the heels of recently introduced legislation with cost estimates and descriptions in the most recent Taxpayer’s Tab. While releasing our final BillTally report for the 111th Congress in mid-March, we remained vigilant in getting you the bills sponsored and supported in the 112th Congress.
This week’s Most Expensive Bill would authorize the Department of Education to spend up to $1 billion for each of the next five years to employ 100,000 new teaching assistants. The paraprofessionals would help teachers with administrative support as well as help students with one-on-one instruction. The bill’s goal is to achieve a lower ratio of school workers to students. School districts who already have met the requirement (mentioned in the Tab) may use funds to help currently employed aides in obtaining teaching licenses or furthering their professional development.
Bills in Issue 10 of The Taxpayer’s Tab include:
Fairness Doctrine Prohibition Bill Highlighted in Latest Taxpayer’s Tab
As budget battles loom and entitlement liabilities grow, NTU Foundation is hot on the heels of federal spending proposals. This week’s Taxpayer’s Tab brings you four newly scored bills for your consideration.
One bill making ripples in the political waters is the Cut Federal Spending Act of 2011, sponsored by Senator Rand Paul. To address the projected $1.5 trillion deficit for 2011, Paul proposes cuts across many government departments and agencies -- even defunding the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nine agencies, and seven independent agencies. How much will it save taxpayers? Check out the article in its entirety here.
The latest Taxpayer’s Tab includes the following bills:
Do you or anyone you know live in Congressmen Joe Baca (CA-43), Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), or Mike Pence’s (IN-6) district or Senator Rand Paul’s (KY) state? Each of these legislators was mentioned in this week’s Tab. Read up on their proposals and keep a tab on them!
As a bonus, we also highlight a recently posted article by NTUF’s Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. The War on Federal Redundancy, featured in The Ripon Forum, addresses why Congress should target duplicative government programs first but quickly and assertively move onto the three 500 pound gorillas, also known as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Check out the whole article here.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Reflections on CPAC
Today is the third and final day of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives and libertarians in the nation. After three days of staffing a well-visited booth, meeting with dedicated activists, and listening to dynamic speakers, I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation, but also to what the future holds for the conservative movement.
This year’s CPAC had the highest number of attendees (11,000) in the history of the conference. CPAC speakers ranged from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee Chair, to Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a potential presidential candidate who gave, in my view, an outstanding keynote address, which you can read here. Also, CPAC 2011 featured a number of new participating organizations that focus on both activism and policy related to social, economic, and political issues at the federal, state, and local levels.
While attending CPAC, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of discussions about important tax and fiscal policy issues facing the United States. NTUF hosted a discussion about entitlement reform that featured experts such as Rep. Devin Nunes, Maya MacGuineas, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Steven Moore, and Dan Mitchell. The bottom line of their presentation was that we need to start tackling the problem of runaway entitlement spending before it’s too late.
But budget reform should not be restricted to social programs. CPAC also featured a panel on how the nation can reduce defense spending to a more manageable level without jeopardizing readiness. As a former military aide to a fiscally conservative Member of Congress, I was pleased to hear all of the views presented and the many ideas for maintaining an affordable defense posture. The passion the attendees displayed at the panels, and in conversations with me at the NTU table, was striking. It bodes well for conservatives if these activists carry their views home and remain outspoken and active in the political process.
For the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk in the media about differences in the conservative movement over certain policies and suggestions that these differences spell certain doom the conservative movement. After three days of observing conservatives of all stripes from across the country, I can unequivocally say that reports of destructive differences among conservatives are greatly exaggerated. In fact, I would argue that the conservative movement has never been stronger and ready to bring real solutions to the many serious problems facing the nation.3 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Tune into NTU's State of the Union Coverage tonight
Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, the National Taxpayers Union's crack government affairs and policy analysis teams will provide special online coverage of the President’s State of the Union Address, and we want you to be there and be a part of the discussion. We will be breaking down the President's proposals and what they will mean for taxpayers. Details on how you can join the conversation are below.
We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!
We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!
This week’s Taxpayer’s Tab covers a variety of legislation introduced during the 111th Congress, ranging from improving America’s small town infrastructure to eliminating sex-based pay-discrimination.
The 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act -- this week’s Most Expensive Bill -- would reestablish the Depression-era program at a cost of $16 billion each year. The Corps is intended to employ people, especially out-of-work veterans and people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, by improving America’s parks and forests.
Be sure to check out the WildCard -- a bill to get kids and families outdoors through community program grants. You might be interested how much it costs…
The bills highlighted in Issue 23 of The Taxpayer’s Tab include: