Category Archives: Florida

As A Matter Of Fact…Tax Them And They Leave? Apparently NOT


August 4th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Mary E. Forsberg

In 2008, 16,000 New Jersey taxpayers earned $1 million or more. That’s more than in any year before or since 2001 with only one exception – the boom year 2006. In that year, 18,400 New Jersey taxpayers earned more than $1 million. In the following year, only 15,900 taxpayers earned more than $1 million but their average income was $3.5 million, the highest average in any year to date. The numbers tell many stories. Did 2,400 high income people leave New Jersey between 2006 and 2008? Or was their income simply subject to the vagaries of Wall Street and the economy?

Anecdotes abound: So-and-so has a house in New Jersey and one in Florida and decided to call Florida his residence to avoid paying any state income tax (Florida has none). No one knows how often this happens.

Some things, however, are known.

According to data compiled over more than 20 years by the Internal Revenue Service, the average household income of those who move to New Jersey from other states is higher than that of households leaving New Jersey for other states.

Three states (New York, Pennsylvania and Florida) consistently account for the highest number of households moving into and out of New Jersey from elsewhere in the United States.

IRS data analyzed by NJPP in 2003 found no correlation between tax increases or cuts and movement into or out of New Jersey. It was not uncommon for the number of people coming to New Jersey the year after an income tax increase to exceed the number leaving or for the number leaving the year after a tax cut to exceed the number coming in. Further, in most years it was the case that both the number coming and leaving rose and fell in tandem.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Tax Flight is a Myth: Higher State Taxes Bring More Revenue, Not More Migration,” provides an up-to-date rigorous examination of the unproven claims that tax hikes drive large numbers of households – particularly the most affluent – to other states. It concludes the following:

Migration is not common. Just 1.7 percent of U.S. residents per year moved from one state to another between 2001 and 2010.
The migration that is occurring is more likely to be driven by cheaper housing than by lower taxes. The difference between housing costs in two different states is often many times greater than the difference in taxes.

Recent research shows income tax increases cause little or no interstate migration. New Jersey is used as an example in two different studies examined in the report. The first, conducted by Stanford University sociologists, estimated the migration effect of New Jersey’s 2004 tax increase on filers with incomes exceeding $500,000. The authors found that net out-migration did increase for those in that income group but it also increased for those with lower incomes – and by virtually the same amount. The second report which was commissioned by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce found that most of the people included in the study who were moving from New Jersey had less than $500,000 a year in taxable income so would not have been subject to New Jersey’s highest 8.97 percent marginal tax rate. Despite this, the governor continues to claim this study as evidence of a tax-migration effect.

Low taxes can prevent a state from maintaining the kind of high-quality public services that people value, such as good schools, mass transit, cultural facilities and recreational opportunities.

Policymakers need honest and accurate information about the implications of tax increases and tax cuts in order to address the challenging fiscal and economic circumstances that most states continue to face. State policy makers should not let false claims about taxes and migration shape their decisions.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, Florida, high taxes, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, public service quality of life, tax migration

>Taking On The Teachers

>Consortiumnews.com 3/23/11
by Lawrence Davidson

Editor’s Note: The American Right has fully embraced Ronald Reagan’s mantra that “government is the problem” – and that dogma is being applied in a wide variety of ways, including a nationwide assault on the pay and job security of public school teachers.

Republican-controlled state legislatures and Republican governors are in the forefront of this campaign, advancing under the cover of parents’ concerns about their kids’ schooling and behind the idea that standardized tests can be a cure-all. In this guest essay, Lawrence Davidson challenges the assumptions behind this effort:

The Florida state legislature has passed Bill 736, and Gov. Rick Scott has signed it. So this effort to “reform” teaching practices in the Florida public schools is now law.

But reform them how? According to the Miami Herald, the bill will eventually “tie teacher pay to student test scores, eliminate so-called tenure for new hires as of July 1 [all subsequent hires will get only yearly contracts] and end layoffs based on seniority.”

It was, of course, a Republican-sponsored bill and that had the Democrats looking for flaws. It did not take them long to spot an obvious one.

According to the Florida House Minority leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, “if you are basing a teacher’s pay on test scores, there’s going to be a natural incentive for the teachers to teach to the test, instead of, maybe, expanding other areas of interest.”

The Republican response to this concern was to dismiss it as a false issue. According to Rep. Eric Fresen, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill, “As long as the students are learning, I don’t think there’s a problem with that.”

The state of Florida is actually rather late in coming to this. The bill largely mimics the still-extent Bush administration policy known as “No Child Left Behind” which came into existence in 2003 and was overhauled by the Obama Administration in 2010.

As the Florida legislation suggests, this approach relies on assessment based on standardized tests and has made a lot of money for companies who put such tests together.

There are number of assumptions that lay behind all these efforts and here are some of them:

1. The American public school system is performing poorly.

2. This is the fault of bad teachers.

3. Getting rid of the tenure system will get rid of bad teachers.

4. Using standardized tests will allow you to measure necessary levels of learning for specific ages.

5. Having instituted such tests, the attainment of adequate scores means that both the student has successfully learned and the teacher has successfully taught.

It just so happens that all of these assumptions are problematic. Let’s take them one by one.

1. Is the American public school system performing poorly? Well, yes and no. There are plenty of supposedly scary statistics out there that show that the majority of public school students are not fully proficient in a number of academic areas, given a definition of proficiency set by standardized tests.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Education reports that, as of 2009, 17 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math and 18 percent are proficient in Science (let’s keep these percentages in mind), and that “in comparison to 1992, reading scores were lower in 2009.”

However, these statistics beg the question of what criteria is being used to determine proficiency? Or, if you will, just what does it mean to be educated?

Historically (and here I mean from the dawn of civilization onward), the notion of educational proficiency has always been tied to making a living. In other words, either through apprenticeship or formal schooling, what most children have learned over the ages is what their economic environments required of them.

Applied to our own time this means that, for all students in all schools, there are two curricula. Whether you want to be a lawyer or an auto mechanic, the primary curriculum is vocational and the second one is, shall we say, elective.

This elective category may or may not include independent critical thinking which, in any case, is a pursuit that is often disapproved of by local school boards.

By the time American kids are in junior high school, they usually know the difference between what is vocationally valuable and what is not, and most gear their learning efforts to what they believe are their future career interests.

That means vocational learning will most often trump elective learning. It also means that it is not the school per se, or the teachers, that are actually setting the criteria for learning. It is the economy and the student’s local culture.

So, if the economy demands reading and writing abilities at the level of business memos and technical reports, that is the proficiency, on average, that you will get. On average, all learning beyond that, regardless of the courses taken, will be seen by the student as elective and will be absorbed (or not) depending on personal interest.

Ask yourself how many American students want to – or will be required to – know anything beyond basic math in their future workplace? Seventeen percent sounds like a roughly accurate number. How many are going to want to – or have to know – much science? Eighteen percent sounds about right.

Thirty years ago, computer savvy was not a job-related skill. Schools largely ignored it and relatively few people had real proficiency in this area. Today, the situation is reversed. So you see for most students, and their schools, useful knowledge is deemed to be employment knowledge.

Actually, almost all American schools, even the “failing” ones, deliver employment knowledge. You might think that this claim is off-base, but it really is not.

High-end public schools cater to students, most of whom by virtue of their cultural background, have professional career expectations. And that is the educational preparation they get. Just so, low-end schools (admittedly underfunded) cater to students, most of whom have very different expectations, and they are educated accordingly.

I am not claiming this is a good thing, only that this is the way it works. If you want to change it, you have to change culturally driven expectations and the structural nature of the economy.

Just looking at tests and teachers won’t do it. To achieve this sort of change means a lot of social rearrangement and revenue shifting. Historically, the U.S. has never been willing to do these things.

2. And that brings us to our second assumption. If you are not satisfied with the status quo in education, but are not willing to acknowledge where the real problems lie, you might be tempted to find a scapegoat.

So, it all becomes the fault of bad teachers.

First of all it should be determined what is meant by bad teaching. Do we define it by poor student scores on a standardized test? Or do we define it as the failure or inability to make a good faith effort to address the required material?

It should be kept in mind that you can have the first without the second. I would be very suspicious of the first definition because of the reasons given above. So let use the second definition. Given that meaning, are there bad teachers in our public school system? Yes there are.

But it is highly doubtful if, in terms of percentage, they number any more than bad administrators, bad bank managers, bad lawyers, bad doctors, and even bad Florida state politicians, etc.

Nor is it true that, allegedly unlike the other categories, teachers are “insulated from accountability.” Almost every public school teacher in the country is under contract.

One assumes that failure to teach competently is a breach of a teacher’s contract. Just as in all other contractually governed employment settings, it is the administrator’s (the principal’s) job to document the situation and fire the worker who is not doing his or her job…..

Finish reading this essay by Lawrence Davidson >>> here

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Filed under consortiumnews.com, economics of education, Florida, Gov. Rich Scott, Lawrence Davidson, Miami Herald, no child left behind, public education, Ronald Reagan, student culture, teacher tenure, Teachers

>Judicial Activism and the Affordable Care Act

>

President Obama and the White House responds to yesterday’s ruling by a Federal Judge down in Florida that declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

Posted at The White House Blog by Stephanie Cutter on January 31, 2011

Today, a judge in Florida issued a decision in a case filed by 25 Republican Attorneys General and Governors striking down the Affordable Care Act. This ruling is well out of the mainstream of judicial opinion. Twelve federal judges have already dismissed challenges to the constitutionality of the health reform law, and two judges – in the Eastern District of Michigan and Western District of Virginia – have upheld the law. In one other case, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia issued a very narrow ruling on the constitutionality of the health reform law’s “individual responsibility” provision and upheld the rest of the law.

Today’s ruling – issued by Judge Vinson in the Northern District of Florida – is a plain case of judicial overreaching. The judge’s decision contradicts decades of Supreme Court precedent that support the considered judgment of the democratically elected branches of government that the Act’s “individual responsibility” provision is necessary to prevent billions of dollars of cost-shifting every year by individuals without insurance who cannot pay for the health care they obtain. And the judge declared that the entire law is null and void even though the only provision he found unconstitutional was the “individual responsibility” provision. This decision is at odds with decades of established Supreme Court law, which has consistently found that courts have a constitutional obligation to preserve as a much of a statute as can be preserved. As a result, the judge’s decision puts all of the new benefits, cost savings and patient protections that were included in the law at risk.

Under today’s view of the law, seniors will pay higher prices for their prescription drugs and small businesses will pay higher taxes because small business tax credits would be eliminated. And the new provisions that prevent insurance companies from denying, capping or limiting your care would be wiped away.

We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts.

History and the facts are on our side. Similar legal challenges to major new laws — including the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act — were all filed and all failed. And contrary to what opponents argue the new law falls well within Congress’s power to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause.

Those who claim that the “individual responsibility” provision exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes “inactivity” are simply wrong. Individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively making an economic decision that impacts all of us. People who make an economic decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market. As Congress found, every year millions of people without insurance obtain health care they cannot pay for, shifting tens of billions of dollars in added cost onto those who have insurance and onto taxpayers. There can be no doubt that this activity substantially affects interstate commerce, and Congress has the power to regulate it.

The Affordable Care Act, through the individual responsibility requirement, will require everyone, if they can afford it, to carry some form of health insurance since everyone at some point in time participates in the health care system, and incur costs that must be paid for. For the 83% of Americans who have coverage and who are already taking responsibility for their health care, their insurance premiums will decrease over time. Many of those who are currently struggling to pay for insurance will get a new tax credit. Only those who are able to pay for health insurance will be responsible for obtaining it. Because most people would voluntarily purchase coverage as it becomes more affordable and the policy exempts those for whom purchase would cause a financial hardship, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016….

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Filed under activist judges, Florida, The America’s Affordable Health Choice Act, the White House Blog, unconstitutional

Obama Gains G.O.P. Support From Governors

If  the 22 GOP Governors understand how important it is to our country and our economy that President Obama’s economic stimulus bill be passed and signed into law, then how come their counter parts in congress didn’t get it? 
Jackie Calmes of the NY Times does her best to answer that question in her article that was posted online a short while ago:

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington.

Across the country, from California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida’s Charlie Crist and New England’s Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him.

Read More >>>Here

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Filed under Arnold Schwarzenegger, Connecticut, Economic Stimulus Package, Florida, GOP Governors, Gov. Charlie Crist, Jackie Calmes, Jim Douglas, M.Jodi Rell, NY Times, President Obama, the White House, Vermont

>Obama Gains G.O.P. Support From Governors

>

If  the 22 GOP Governors understand how important it is to our country and our economy that President Obama’s economic stimulus bill be passed and signed into law, then how come their counter parts in congress didn’t get it? 
Jackie Calmes of the NY Times does her best to answer that question in her article that was posted online a short while ago:

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington.

Across the country, from California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida’s Charlie Crist and New England’s Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him.

Read More >>>Here

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Filed under Arnold Schwarzenegger, Connecticut, Economic Stimulus Package, Florida, GOP Governors, Gov. Charlie Crist, Jackie Calmes, Jim Douglas, M.Jodi Rell, NY Times, President Obama, the White House, Vermont

Sarah Silverman and The Great Schlep

Comedian Sarah Silverman wants Jews to gets their butts down to Florida for the Great Schlep to vote for Barack Obama. The video is pretty funny and worth a look. But be forewarned the video does contain a few expletive four letter words.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Florida, Sarah Silverman, The great schlep, YouTube

Sarah Silverman and The Great Schlep

Comedian Sarah Silverman wants Jews to gets their butts down to Florida for the Great Schlep to vote for Barack Obama. The video is pretty funny and worth a look. But be forewarned the video does contain a few expletive four letter words.

Leave a comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Florida, Sarah Silverman, The great schlep, YouTube