Only state sales tax will eliminate district’s burden
Douglas County is considering following the lead of Johnson County by instituting a sales tax for the benefit of its school districts. The proposed 1/2 cent sales tax would raise an estimated $5.8 million a year.
Eudora district officials have said if there was to be an education sales tax in the county, the district should be included to the tune of an estimated $506,000 a year. They are leery of a Lawrence-only tax that would only provide the Lawrence district revenue. Their reasoning is that many Eudora district residents shop in Lawrence, and the district should benefit from those dollars.
This argument gets to the core of the debate over the fairness of a local education sales tax. The Johnson County tax, which has thus far prevailed against court challenges, provides that county's schools with $45 million annually. The county bills itself as the state's economic engine, providing far more than its share of sales tax revenue to the state.
But those dollars are not spent exclusively by Johnson County residents. Visitors from all over the state help make that county's retail climate the success it is, often while visiting successful sons and daughters who have left their hometowns for Overland Park, Olathe and other suburban communities.
Clearly, the fairest way to finance education is through statewide taxes, which is charged by the Kansas Constitution to do just that. The biggest legacy of the sales tax initiative is that it might force the Legislature to shoulder that burden.
That, and not drinking from a waterhole meant to nourish Lawrence schools, will provide lasting benefits for Eudora USD 491.