By Amanda Litvinov
Every candidate running for governor has an education platform, and many promise much-needed investment in public schools. But not all candidates can articulate how they would make their proposal a reality. In other words, how they will pay for it.
Fortunately, candidates running for governor in Illinois, Arizona, and Pennsylvania are among those setting a great example. Each has a plan to grow state revenue, increase tax fairness, and invest more in the public schools that most families rely on.
J.B. Pritzker wants a progressive income tax
Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker plans to increase K-12 public school funding, because, as Pritzker says, “the state hasn’t done enough to help children in every school thrive.”
Here’s how he plans to do that:
“I’m focused on … making sure that every child in the state of Illinois gets a quality education,” Pritzker has said. “And that means passing a progressive income tax so we can lower people’s property taxes and lower our dependency on property taxes for our education system.”
A progressive income tax asks top earners to pay a higher tax rate than those who make less. California, New York, and North Dakota have among the most progressive income tax systems in the country, while Illinois currently has one of the least progressive.
Pritzker has also vowed to end the state voucher program created by current Gov. Rauner. The voucher program, which allows up to $75 million in tax credits per year for those who donate to private school scholarship funds, drains funding that should go to public schools.
Gov. Tom Wolf wants a fair tax on oil and gas extraction
Gov. Tom Wolf, who is running for re-election in 2018, proposed tremendous investment in education in his 2018-19 budget proposal, including:
- $100 million increase in basic education funding.
- $20 million increase in special education funding.
- $40 million increase in pre-kindergarten and Head Start funding.
- $60 million increase in career and technical education initiatives, including a $10 million increase in the career and technical education subsidy.
And the best part is Gov. Wolf knows how to pay for his education plan. Pennsylvania is the only state that does not tax the billions of dollars’ worth of oil and gas that drillers extract in the state every year. Gov. Wolf intends to make those drillers pay a severance tax to bring in new revenue that will go to balance the state budget while investing more in schools.
Gov. Wolf has already made historic investments in public education that mean 30 percent more kids can attend pre-K and more students have access to art, music, and AP programs.
David Garcia wants the wealthiest corporations and individuals to pay their share
David Garcia, an education leadership professor running for governor, has said the state must do much more to fix its school funding crisis. Arizona spends roughly $4,200 less per pupil than the national average.
Garcia will ask the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes in order to raise another $1 billion annually to invest in schools. He would accomplish that through a host of changes, including:
- Closing corporate tax loopholes and exemptions that currently allow 74 percent of Arizona corporations to reduce their income tax liability to less than $50.
- Requiring the top 1 percent of earners to pay their fair share. When looking at state and local income, property, and sales taxes, the poorest 20 percent of families in Arizona pay three times more than what the top 1 percent of income earners pay. Garcia would stabilize the state budget through a more equitable taxation system.
Thirty-six states have governor elections this fall. If you live in one of those states, make sure you know what the candidates have planned for public schools—and how they propose to pay for it.