The Education Sales Tax

It’s a curious turn of events: The State Senate just got whacked for spending more money on education.

For years, the state has returned 25% of the sales tax revenues to counties based on their population. The state also instructed the counties to spend part of that money to build schools.

In its new plan, the Senate doubled the amount of money (to 50%) sent to counties based on population and says all the money must all be spent on education – and allows local officials to spend the money however they want: To hire more teachers, pay teachers more, hire teacher assistants, add technology or build schools.

That sounds pretty straightforward. But there’s a hitch – any way you cut it, under the Senate’s new plan, 80 rural counties get more money and 20 urban counties get less. And the urban counties don’t like that.

It’s easy to see why a Chamber of Commerce in, say, Charlotte would feel that way.

But that ignores a second reality. There is no urban center in the state that can survive without well educated workers driving in each day from rural counties to fill jobs.

The bottom line is simple: We’re all in this together. Charlotte isn’t surrounded by a moat and a drawbridge. When a rural county nearby doesn’t have the money to pay for schools and community colleges that’s not just its problem – it’s a problem for Charlotte too. Everyone gains from better rural schools. Including urban centers like Charlotte.

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