New sales tax not likely to catch on for good reason
October 10, 2013 12:15 AM | 6447 views | 10 10 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb school board member David Banks and two members of the district’s SPLOST advisory committee must be living in a bubble. They are proposing a new 1 percent sales tax for education in this county on top of the existing SPLOSTs for schools and transportation plus the state sales tax — which would raise the total sales tax to seven percent.

Banks is giving his support to the new tax effort led by John Crooks and Don Hill, members of the Facilities and Technology Committee of the school board. Crooks, a minister at Roswell Street Baptist Church, is a former school board member who got in a lot of hot water and escaped a recall after violating state law by failing to give advance notice of a vote on a cell tower, saying “it would have probably caused a circus.” Instead, it caused an uproar among his constituents. Hill is a former chairman of the Cobb Republican Party, an unlikely portfolio for a tax hike proposal.

The objective here is a hugely daunting one — amending the Georgia Constitution to allow the Cobb school district to impose a Local Education Sales Tax, or LEST. Crooks, who is president of the Cobb Schools Foundation, said he has been getting requests from teachers who want money to increase teacher training days, and thus, he decided to support the LEST proposal.

“As a Republican, I don’t get all tingly over taxes,” Crooks said. “But for me, this is a choice for a poor area to improve the quality of education, and that means improving the quality of life. And if people choose a sales tax to help improve their quality of life then so be it.”

It’s good to know that Crooks does not get tingly over taxes because if that’s the case with him, think how the vast majority of Cobb voters feel about another 1-cent sales tax — which would amount to a 16.6 percent increase in the existing 6 percent tax.

There is an especially worthy feature of the LEST proposal. It would provide that at least 30 percent of the taxes collected must be used to roll back property taxes, according to Crooks, although it is not yet clear if exemptions from the tax would be made for food, gasoline, prescription drugs or other necessities.

The proposed bill as of now would give any county with more than 50,000 population the option to levy a 10-year, 1-cent tax for a school district’s general fund. Unlike the existing school SPLOST which can only be used for capital improvements, proceeds of a LEST could be spent at the discretion of the school board for operational expenses and any educational purpose including teacher salary increases or reducing class sizes or any other need.

The first challenge for the LEST proponents is to round up a two-thirds affirmative vote by both houses of the General Assembly. If that should unexpectedly succeed, the proposal still would need approval by voters in a statewide referendum. Then finally, county voters would have to approve a new 1-cent sales tax. All in all, the LEST plan is unlikely to get off the ground, and clearly, a tax increase is not an idea whose time has come in Cobb, in Georgia or in America.
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Dave G
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October 14, 2013
David Banks only cares about David Banks - he is notinterested in hearing from constituents. However, Kathleen Angelucci is just as stubborn, has all the charm of a pit bull and hangs out with Tea Party nutjobs like Kelly Marlow from Cherokee County.

Choose your self-obsessed wacko.

Cobb Parent
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October 10, 2013
Yes, God forbid that the taxpayers should contribute 1 penny more per dollar to creating a quality educational system for the county. That is a ridiculous notion! Considering how well our state legislature funds education, why would we possibly need more money?? Let's just continue to pile 35 students into a class and keep Georgia at or near the bottom in national education rankings.
nomoretax
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October 10, 2013
no more taxes! i pay enough as it is!! cut costs and get rid of all the fraud and waste in the budget. i'm tired of this!
#Your-Ignorance
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October 12, 2013
All together, the state of Georgia OWES school districts across Georgia nearly $5 billion. This is money GEORGIA LAW STATES THEY MUST PAY (Quality Basic Education Law). Cobb alone is owed over $353 million. Give some *&%^$! specifics! What fraud??? What waste??? What cost do you think we should cut? I seriously want to know. Anyone can go to the cobbk12 website and view the budget. Take a look; tell me what to cut. EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU SPOUT OFF AGAIN!

from texas
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October 10, 2013
David Banks is just a re-tooled Democrat he ran on fewer taxes less government and now hes a tax inviter. You remember the first school SPLOST it’s just a onetime deal to get us through this year. The county waste a lot of tax dollar but the school board is wasting 60 to 70 percent of your hard earned tax money. David Banks is fuller of hot air than a Macy’s Day parade balloon! Thank God for Kathy Angelucci isn’t Scott Sweeney the guy that ran the Republican Party didn’t know he was so into taxes I’m sure in a while he will pop-up as a lobbyist for the school children. You dying elephant’s better figure out Ted Cruz and people like him are the only hope your party has or you’re going to be like the Dodo bird. Work on all that management cost and waste leave touch labor alone to do their jobs probably two or three managers to every one employee Kathy dig into that and the paper needs to as well.
Corrections !
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October 10, 2013
"They" are not "proposing a new 1 percent sales tax for education in this county."

They are proposing a Constitutional amendment that would allow voters within any Georgia county to determine if voters wish to impose a one-cent sales tax for education.

If the state won't fully fund education, who will?

Why is this paper not getting after a statewide issue regarding public education funding in Georgia?
You Are Correct
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October 12, 2013
All together, the state of Georgia OWES school districts across Georgia nearly $5 billion. This is money GEORGIA LAW STATES THEY MUST PAY (Quality Basic Education Law). Cobb alone is owed over $353 million.
East Cobb Senior
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October 10, 2013
With growth come costs, not only because of increases in services such as public safety, road maintenance etc., but in maintaining our schools and educating our increased student populations. It’s easy to criticize and demonize as the editorial staff at the MDJ, have done with reference to the L.E.S.T. proposal discussed at yesterday’s School Board work session. In the past they (The MDJ) have not been shy about offering their solutions to issues confronting our community. Unfortunately in this instance they felt it more important to personally harangue those that have offered solutions rather than offer their own alternatives.

Concerning the debate at school board meeting, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just “pass the hat” and let the willing donate to make up the massive deficits our school systems are experiencing. Apparently that’s what board members Stultz and Angelucci see as the solution. Both fail to recognize that the quality of education in a community determines the quality of life within that community. Simply put, “poor education equates to poor community”. That is not a fear tactic as Ms. Angelucci expressed in yesterday’s School Board Work Session, it is reality. Our high standard of living in Cobb County and the economic growth we have enjoyed over the last three decades can be directly attributable to the quality of education provided by our school system.

Board members Stultz and Angelucci are reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s response to the French citizens when they said they had no bread, “So Let Them Eat Cake” was her reply. So let deficits continue and allow the consequences to fall where they may is the Stultz/Angelucci solution? Can we afford that solution? Mr. Stultz and Ms. Angelucci, two things should be very apparent to both of you. The State does not have or will not provide additional funding and the 20 mill cap on property taxes is not sufficient to adequately fund our school system or maintain the quality of education demanded by the citizens. Offer workable solutions, don’t grandstand, criticize and Monday morning quarterback others efforts to offer solutions.

Deficits over the last five years have resulted in over 1400 teacher and staff positions being eliminated, unmanageable classroom size increases, staff furloughs being implemented and school programs being reduced. A critical question to be asked is “are these having a negative impact on our quality of education”? Recently we have seen a slight overall drop in our SAT scores, is it fair to ask, is the first crack in that quality? It may be premature to deduce a correlation, but being proactive is certainly better than being reactive. Mr. Banks and several members of the community are proposing a solution. If there are others bring them forward and let’s debate them.

The citizens of Cobb County were given, through a Constitutional Amendment and subsequent local voter referendum, the opportunity, on multiple occasions, to decide if they wished to impose a temporary tax to address the inadequate and deteriorating capital assets of their school district and bring them up to an acceptable community standard. The SPLOST gave local citizens the opportunity to self-impose the solution to a problem that needed resolution. As in any issue up for public debate there are both proponents and opponents and our democratic system allows for majority rule. The L.E.S.T proposal as laid out by Mr. Banks appears to provide that, a local initiative, voter approval and property tax relief.

We can all agree that taxes are not pleasant to pay, but if they are in the mix as a possible solution, at least allow those that are impacted by them to make that decision.

the nerve!
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October 10, 2013
These people have the nerve to ask for more money from us, the taxpayers when they can't even figure out how to educate our children? Are they nuts? So the test scores go down but the problem is money?? How dumb do they think we are? A lot of us went to school when an education actually meant something.

Soda-Cost-a-NICKEL!
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October 12, 2013
"A lot of us went to school when an education actually meant something." So what? A lot of you went to school when horses pulled wagons too! What is it you think an education meant then that it doesn't mean now? In the last year alone my students were accepted to programs at Georgia Tech, Michigan, Cornell, and Stanford. I have former students who are creating more fuel efficient vehicles, new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and drought tolerant crops. They are working to save you money, help you live longer and with less pain and ensure you have enough food. Somehow you think that that all just happens like it did in 1917 with a piece of slate and a lump of chalk in a one-room school house??!!Your "it was good enough for me consarnit!!" attitude is sickening. Invest in your own future -work to ensure Cobb schools remain competitive.
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