F.A.C.T.S. = Functional Absurdities Contorted for Teacher Salaries
I originally posted this in response to Pat Crowley’s ranting on RIFuture. Since he’s published the same propaganda as a letter to the Providence Journal, I thought it worth bumping the post to the top.
It is sufficiently tedious to respond to “analysis” from the NEA’s Pat Crowley that, when it’s limited to RI Future, it’s hardly worth doing so. When one considers that he has a direct financial interest in his conclusions, the rest looks like the pure static that it is — meant to be hypnotic, but a mere annoyance when so poorly executed.
I’m the “lead spokesperson” for the “I Hate Rhode Islanders” crowd, according to him. See, Crowley goes right for the demagoguery: “Justin hates you! Fork over more money to the government.” Yup. I simply want my state to provide folks in my circumstances a fair shot at making a living. Crowley wants to raid taxpayers wallets to fund lavish salaries, benefits, and pensions for his clients (union teachers) and to stroke his ideological ego by forcing others to subsidize social programs. Pat may not hate Rhode Islanders, but the end results of his actions sure make his own emotions moot.
But anyway. To his points (if they can rightly be called that):
1/2 of 1% of total state spending goes towards the Family Independence Program (the results of all those poverty pimps is just a drop in the bucket)
The interesting thing about this ploy is that it shows that Pat, the unionist, is happy to play the cards of the local poverty industry. Happily, that makes this an easy response, because Anchor Rising contributors have been pointing out the spin of this trick for years. In a word, as our shared commenter Pragmatist puts it in a comment to Crowley’s post: “Care to cite the percentage of the state budget taken up by all of the human service programs? No, I didn’t think so.”
Rhode Island Ranks 23rd in the country for over all Tax burden according to the conservative Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council. Not 50th, not worst. But right in the middle.
As Pragmatist notes, Crowley links to an irrelevant source. Be that as it may, Andrew has looked into this particular instance of carefully chosen statistics in the past. The upshot is that Rhode Island is top 10 when state-to-state tax burdens are compared. It’s when one adds fees that we drop, and Andrew’s post notes that Rhode Island is toward the bottom in collecting fees for a variety of activities, such as hospital activity and solid waste management.
The reasons for this would take more detail than Crowley’s work merits, but comparing states on such things is problematic. For example, if (as Jeff Grybowski comments to Andrew’s post) the reason RI’s hospital fees don’t amount to much is because the state has only one (small) public hospital, then this particular statistic would be more at home in an expenditures, rather than revenue, analysis. With respect to sewerage, if a high percentage of properties have septic tanks, rather than public sewer, then what isn’t collected in public revenue is spent for private services.
I agree that fees ought to figure into a tax burden analysis, but one must review them carefully. If the tax burden is light on a particular service for which people pay anyway, then the fact that the check doesn’t go to the government is hardly a positive point. If the fee structure is such that middle class and above citizens end up paying the bulk of the government’s total collections, then that only contributes to my point, which was (lest we forget) that Rhode Island is driving out productive citizens in favor of unproductive ones.
The tax that hurts the average Rhode Islander the most, the property tax, needs to be changed but RIGHT WINGERS won’t let that happen. Why? Because it would take an increase in the income tax to offset the change. People in the highest income quintile with an average household income of $196,419 pay only 2.85% of their income on property tax. People in the Lowest bracket pay 8.1% of their income to the property tax.
Here Crowley goes for a classic non sequitur phrased in such a way as to make the careless reader believe that the wealthy are getting away with something. Note that he provides no source for his numbers. Note, too, that he gives the average income for the “highest income quintile,” but not for the lowest (and is that “bracket” a “quintile”?). It may surprise Crowley to hear that property taxes are based on the value of property, not on the owner’s income. The poor man pays the same tax that a rich man would pay for the same property. Generally speaking, the asset has the same value.
So, if an income tax increase were necessary to offset a property tax decrease (because, say, one refuses to allow expenditures on unionized public workers to stagnate, much less decrease), then the “lower bracket” would still have to pay a higher rate on their income than the “highest income quintile.” Otherwise, again, we’re exacerbating our corrosive progressiveness of taxation.
In 1979, the corporate income tax accounted for 10.4% of general revenue. In 2002, that dropped to 1.3%. Did it work? You be the judge
Commenter johnpaycheckri explains that “the tax law changed in 1986 so that most corporations became s-corps which means that the income of the s-corp was passed through to individual shareholders,” and that’s sufficient answer, as far as I’m concerned. For my part, the factoid is most remarkable because of the stark light that it shines on one plain reality: None of Crowley’s proclaimed “FACTS” does anything to refute my argument. People are leaving Rhode Island, especially people in the demographic that pays the majority of taxes, and folks with a vested interest in the system that is driving them away — Pat Crowley notable among them — are only tightening their grip on Rhode Island’s throat.