Cut the What? How?

Photo by TAIS

I’m not sure I really understand Chuck Schumer’s obsession with the “50 percent” concept, but most of his ideas seem pretty good. This one, though, I don’t get:

* Encourage localities to cut property taxes that fund education by 50% over ten years by freezing them now.
* If unforeseen circumstances arise, restore the highest income tax bracket to mid 1990s levels before taking away the property tax reduction.

I, too, would like to see primary and secondary education become less reliant on property taxes as a means of financing schools. There are a lot or problems with property taxes and relying on them at all is mostly an archaic holdover from long past days and few if any of the rationales for reliance on property taxes still exist. That said, encourage localities to do this how? And how do you make up that 50 percent funding shortfall? The question could be answered easily — “cut property taxes by 50 percent and replace the money with a new Value Added Tax” or something — but it really does need to be answered. Clearly, the political difficulty in reducing reliance on property taxes isn’t that it’s hard to cut them, it’s that it’s hard to raise the missing revenue through some other new tax.