To Free Up Education Funds, Fix PERA and Offer Scholarship Tax Credits

You know how much I have to restrain myself when it comes to using the “it’s for the kids” mantra, so I simply couldn’t resist quickly bringing your attention to some important new insights from local pension system analyst Joshua Sharf.

With the tongue-in-cheek title “PERA – It’s All for the Kids,” he paints full-color pictures showing that dollars per student spent on the state retirement system have been growing dramatically, the heaviest burdens borne by taxpayers. Is it any wonder why many school districts might be feeling the pinch? Does it make sense now why I told you a few months back that a better solution than yelling at TABOR is fixing PERA?

Sharf offers up a biting conclusion:

Not only is PERA taking money from the classroom, it’s taking taxpayer dollars from the classroom at a wildly disproportionate rate. Is this what the teachers unions mean by “shared sacrifice?”

Yet what are the legislative leaders at the State Capitol fighting about? According to the Denver Post‘s Tim Hoover, the intra-party squabble is about low-income earner tax credits for education funding.

Seriously? What’s both interesting and sad about the debate is the fact it’s somewhat unnecessary. Hey, what about tax credits for K-12 education that give low-income families more access to private tuition scholarships while leaving behind more public dollars for each student still served in the public system! It probably makes too much sense.

Sometimes, it seems easier to yell at TABOR or fight about education funding vs. tax credits, when a much better approach would be to reform PERA and offer education scholarship tax credits!! Too bad you can’t put a perpetual 5-year-old in charge of state policies….