The state Legislature is starting another shell game with school funding and property taxes. Can you guess where the dollars went?
We have had three voucher bills in the last 12 months. The first one, House Bill 20, got stalled in the House until 2022. The second, Senate Bill 130, created the “Educational Freedom Account” and got stuck into the state budget for passage. Not to be outdone by the Senate, the House concocted House Bill 607, which expands the costs even more.
The first two bills capped the amount a family could earn and still qualify at 375 percent of poverty level. That’s kind of tough to predict because poverty level is not a fixed number. But just to simplify things, HB 607 simply removed the cap. Now anyone can qualify.
The bottom line is that these voucher programs, whatever you call them, allow our property-tax dollars — yes, your property-tax dollars — to pay for private education or offset costs for homeschooling.
A private school can be anything from a fancy vine covered academy to a storefront. There doesn’t appear to be any definition of that. Even better, since this is a “freedom” account, the school can even be out of state. Yes, your property tax dollars can be spent in Massachusetts.
In addition, since so many signed up for this, the administrative structure included in SB 130 couldn’t handle all the paperwork. So they contracted with a Florida firm to do that work for a 10 percent tip. Why are they doing this? Big business looks at the public school system and sees all these opportunities to tap your property taxes for their own pockets.
Yes, it’s for their profit. They distract you with words like “freedom” and “choice,” but the bottom line is that they want your money. They don’t care about you, your livelihood or your children. The accompanying propaganda is often paid for by Americans for Prosperity. That is spelled K-O-C-H. Follow the money. Stay tuned for more shell-game adventures.
I am often asked, “What can I do to change things?” The answer is “speak up,” as loudly and as often as you can.
HB 607 is slated for a House vote on Jan 5, 2022. You still have time to say No. Call or write your representative. Picket the Statehouse. Testify.