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Which candidates in key governors races support tax fairness to bolster school funding?

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By Amanda Litvinov

Tax fairness–asking wealthy citizens and corporations to pay their fair share–is critical to establish consistent revenue to invest in schools and other public services. But some politicians are unwilling to address the issue.

Even in the wake of the historic #RedForEd protests–in which educators, parents and students in a handful of states took to the streets to demand greater investment in public education–some candidates running for governor deny that schools need more resources to meet the needs of all students.

Other candidates are listening to educators and parents, and have a plan to strengthen school funding.

Compare the candidates’ views in these key races:


J.B. Pritzker

Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker wants to invest more in K-12 public schools, beginning with expanding access to early childhood education. He plans to do that by passing a progressive income tax, which asks top earners to pay a higher tax rate than those who make less.

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.

“What I really oppose is taking money out of the public schools and that is what happened here in order to provide that private tax credit to wealthy people,” Pritzker said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Rauner has done nothing to improve Illinois’ system of taxation, one of the most regressive in the country. In Illinois, those who make less are asked to pay taxes at a higher rate than those who  make much more.

What’s worse, Rauner has championed an underhanded private school voucher scheme that siphons off money that should be invested in the state’s underfunded public schools. Rauner is so dedicated to the program that he held up the state budget every year he has been in office, plunging K-12 schools and public colleges and universities into fiscal chaos.



Gov. Tom Wolf 

Delivering on one of his major campaign promises, Gov. Wolf has nearly reversed the devastating $1 billion cut in public school funding lawmakers approved in 2011. “Gov. Wolf committed himself to public education funding when he campaigned for governor, and he has kept that promise in every state budget since he’s been in office,’’ said educator and PSEA Vice President Dolores McCracken. “There is still plenty of work ahead, but this puts a dark chapter behind us.’’

Alleviating past education cuts is not enough to keep up with students’ needs. Gov. Wolf has a plan to further increase investment in public education. Pennsylvania is the only state that does not tax the billions of dollars’ worth of oil and gas that drillers extract every year. Gov. Wolf is close to making the oil and natural gas drillers pay their fair share for the first time ever, and will use the revenue to balance the state budget while investing more in schools.

Scott Wagner

State Sen. Scott Wagner, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, has not released a plan to increase tax fairness. He has made it clear that he will do damage to public school funding if elected. Wagner supports Wagner supports bringing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s education agenda to Pennsylvania with a statewide voucher plan.

Wagner, a strident critic of public schools and educator unions, stated that teachers are overpaid during a radio interview in March. He wants to eliminate benefits that educators earn, including pensions and sick days. He has even said that retired educators should give back 10 percent of the retirement they earned.



David Garcia 

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 and it has the lowest teacher pay in the country.

“Arizona teachers … are forced to leave the profession because they cannot support a family on their stagnant, below average wages,” Garcia told EducationVotes.

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. His proposal involves closing corporate tax loopholes and requiring the state’s top 1% 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 has also promised to fight to put an end to Gov. Ducey’s private school vouchers, which send taxpayer funding to private and religious schools that are not required to meet basic state standards, and pick and choose who they enroll.


Gov. Doug Ducey

Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey refuses to acknowledge that Arizona’s system of taxation, skewed in favor of wealthy citizens and corporations, hampers the state’s ability to invest in public schools. Arizona now spends a billion dollars less on public schools than it did in 2008. The state ranks at the bottom nationally in per pupil spending. And yet, state lawmakers have cut taxes and expanded tax credits for corporations every year since 1990.

When adjusted for inflation, that amounts to about $4.4 billion in reduced revenue—money that could have been used for students, educators, and public schools.

Although Gov. Ducey proposed a 20 percent raise for teachers, he did not propose any tax changes that would ensure the state has the funding to pay for it.

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16 responses to “Which candidates in key governors races support tax fairness to bolster school funding?

  1. Every child is & should be untitled to a greater education without bias. in the keystone State there are many of districts that happen to be racist.And I happen to live in one.not to mention the name but #number4 I know for a fact this is true my grandson gets bullied every day and nothing is done.even thought it has been brought to the administration attention. Yet they claim they don’t tolerate bullying it has been close to 4 yrs. It has been going on we’ve hired attorneys & have gone that route for some time now still nothing done so next step is suit against districts& students involved.

  2. JB Pritzker of Illinois hides his money offshore so as to avoid taxation. He has refused to appear at the offices of the Chicago Tribune to engage in a debate with others running for governor. I cannot vote for such as he. Of course, I will not vote for Rauner either.

  3. Holy u–know-what!

    Why is my PROFESSIONAL association pushing POLITICAL candidates??? …I noticed that they are ALL DEMOCRAT. (While the NEA / (state)EA membership does NOT represent such a slanted POLITICAL stance …or push!)

    To the NEA mucky-mucks suits pushing such a one sided agenda… know this, when I or my BULLY administrator leaves, I will no longer require the NEA’s lowest-common-denominator intimidation …errrrr legal representation! And I will be free to support the political candidates of <<>> choosing – Democrat OR Republican!

    (For moderators benefit, this was posted 5-16-18 @ noon)

    1. To embarassed. I am embarrassed that so many educators don’t realize that Democrats by and large are the only ones who support children and education. Read the platforms if you don’t believe me.
      Lyn, Proud NEA/WEA member

  4. Education is the key for everybody’s ability to fill their potentials in their life.
    Teachers are creating America’s future with their students. These Students will become our scientists, our doctors and our leaders in government.

  5. Why doesn’t the DNC channel funds to these races and bombard the VOTERS of these states to contribute more? I’ve been asked to support DEMS outside of my state so many times, I’m sick of getting emails from DNC DGA DCCC.

  6. David Garcia is not the only qualified candidate for governor in Arizona. Steve Farley is just as qualified, if not more. Steve knows about education and has actually been in the legislature. It is a sad story that some associations are willing to endorse before a primary election.

  7. What about California governor candidates? We have a primary coming up in June. Gov. Brown is coming to the end of his term limit.

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