Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The True Cost of Halter's Promises So Far

The cost of implementing Halter's universal pre-kindergarten program will be astronomical. Halter says on his website that he wants to "expand pre-kindergarten funding by $50 million a year" and build on the Arkansas Better Chance program (eumphemism for pre-kindergarten) implemented when Bill Clinton was governor. He doesn't say for how many years, but it will take a few of those $50 million to provide pre kindergarten for every student in Arkansas. In 2002 the estimate for all 4 years old students was approximately $280 million. Even in California, Propositon 82 ,06 "Voters rejected a ballot measure that would have taxed the wealthy to provide free preschool for all California 4-year-olds."

Halter he is even promoting pre kindergarten for both 3 and 4 year olds for low income families so that would be many more million dollars. He says on his website that his "plan to expand pre kindergarten will make Arkansas a national leader in providing pre-kindergarten." Arkansas is already eighth in the country in funding earmarked for preschool education.

His plans will also move Arkansas toward # 1 in the nation in percent of income paid in total taxes. Most conservatives don't want their taxes spent on teaching the pre school children a Godless curriculum (God can no longer be included in the curriculum and schools) and making them wards of the State at such an early age. Remember the adage "Give me your child until he is seven, and he will believe like me forever."

Halter's proposal to increase teacher salaries by $5,000 could be good if you took it out of the $107 million that was given to the Arkansas Department Education to hire 32 new employees and other supplemental spending. That is not going to happen though! The state will have to pay about $202 million to increase teachers' salaries by $5,000. That figure was arrived at by multiplying 33,140 teachers by $5,000 and then adding 22% for the of social security, teacher retirement, and insurance.

Just these two initial educational proposals by Halter come to about $500 million, which equals more than a 1% increase in sales tax. And he is just starting on his campaign promises. Total education revenue in Arkansas has already almost doubled in 10 years – from 1995-1996 federal, state and local sources has increased from $2.2 billion to $4 billion in 2004-05. I think most of you will agree that you have seen very little value for your money.

Halter has proposed a lottery to fund educational programs. The lottery can be described as the most insidious form of gambling. Gamblers with household incomes of less than $10,000 bet three times as much on lotteries as those with incomes over $50,000. All studies indicate that a lottery takes its greatest toll on the economically disadvantaged since the lottery primarily attracts poor, unemployed, and less educated players.

Estimates show an Arkansas lottery would generate $169 million in sales. Only 33 percent of this amount, about $55 million annually, would be available as tax revenue for the state treasury. (Study by Arkansas Advocates for Chidlren & Famileis, a liberal organization.) So the state gets very little profit while promoting and encouraging addictive gambling by our children and the disadvantaged.

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