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Will Collins, Published May 05 2010

Minnesota school taxes are unfair

The April 30 front-page article on the Pelican Rapids, Minn., tax levy totally missed the basic problem here. In our state, the Legislature has failed to provide every student with a fair and equal education. They instead permit each district to arbitrarily raise tax money to fund their own area’s education. That results in an extremely discriminatory system that gives the best schooling to the richest districts and the poorest people get the crumbs. It’s called education by ZIP code!

In 2008, average school tax in 13 districts ranged from $79 to $693, which pointedly shows the horrible inequality and causes many students to play educational hopscotch chasing the money.

Additionally, their bad law excludes recreational property from the levy. That results in more than half of properties here paying zero tax. In effect the rest of us must pay a double tax. It really hurts us fixed- income seniors and lake home owners the most, especially during these bad economic times when our family budgets just can’t afford any more taxes.

Worse than that, it denies every Minnesota student an equally funded education by the best teachers. I believe that Minnesota not only has a responsibility, but an obligation, to provide the same dollars for each and every student’s education in our state. Why our legislators and school boards allow this discrimination to exist is beyond my comprehension.