Property taxes in Philadelphia

Suddenly, I see articles and commentary on the property tax reform plan in Philadelphia everywhere. I’m so glad we discussed it in class on Saturday. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it too much and now I want to see what the tax structures are in Louisiana, where I’ll be moving to in late July, and their impact on school quality. I know schools in Louisiana are not supposed to be great overall — maybe the tax structures have something to do with that?

There was an editorial in the Inquirer today about the property reassessment, arguing that the tax reform and reassessment should not be tied to raising revenues for schools.  While the editorial made a good case for the need for the reform, it didn’t explain why specifically it was not a good idea to tie it to funding schools.  Maybe because it distracts from the fact that the tax reform was long overdue?  Or, what occurred to me was that residents may be less in favor of the tax reform if it is tied to school funding…but I have no idea.

Matt, do you know why the editorial’s authors made this argument?



One thought on “Property taxes in Philadelphia

  1. I would caution against the assumption that increased taxes equal good schools. The recent hsitory of states like NJ and California who consistently lead in educational spending reveal the opposite. The other, oft cited example, is the performance of Catholic schools that costs a fraction of most public schools and serve the poorest of the population further support the proposition that there is much more to good education, public or private, than throwing money at the problem. A good public education is essential and it deserves a deeper analysis than higher taxes equal good educaiton. That said, there is a minium amount of funding that must be committed to pulic education to make it effective. It would be great if there was a model of edcuational funding tied to the efficacy of deleivering education. Even when looking at other countries I have not seen one. While the PR tends to provide a negative view of the US education system as against other nations those comparisons are seriously flawed. For instance, comapring Japan which is comprised of a homegenous population and culture to the diverse and mulit-cultureral population of the US is comparing apples to oranges. When those factors are taken into account, we do a decent job. Additionally, comparing European countires like Switzerland which routinely exclude immigrants from their education system is also intellectually flawed. Comparing most European countries which are much smaller than the US is also problemeatic. Swizlerland’s GDP is equal to NJ ( and its population is less than the population of New York City, 8M in NYC versus 7M in Switzerland. In addition, Educational Attianment, i.e. the percentage of population that attains college level education favors the US. The US is ranked 2nd versus Switzerland which is ranked 13th. Thus, while we need to do a better job, our public education is still pretty good on a national level. Domenick

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