Education’s Ends and Means

The cornerstone of this year’s legislative session, as far as Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn is concerned, involves repealing the income tax in Mississippi. He estimates that doing so would put about $1100 back into the budgets of typical Mississippi families, which he expects they would put to use purchasing the things they want instead of having to spend it on the things the government wants. The majority of the House agreed: Gunn’s bill went through to the Senate on a 96-12 vote. However, progress has stalled in the Senate, whose leaders have expressed concern that completely eliminating the tax would leave too big a hole in the state budget.

Some residents find the tax cut alluring. I met a gentleman at a soccer tournament last weekend who maintains Oklahoma citizenship–he can do this as a member of the Air Force–so that he won’t have to pay the income tax here.

Interestingly, most business leaders find greater security in workforce training and development than in cutting the income tax. The premise put forward by the Mississippi Economic Counsel is that we should spend money retooling our educational system to make young people in Mississippi more prepared to find employment in our state’s increasingly technology oriented workforce. Forget Spanish or French or literary analysis. They want our kids to learn programming so that they can tell the robots on the floor of a steel fabrication assembly what to do. The MEC also believes that if we spend wisely on education, we can rehabilitate the state’s image to the point that brain drain will no longer plague us–that our best and brightest youths will want to stay here for their careers and to raise families rather than fleeing to New York, Nashville, or Atlanta.

I’m not certain that workforce development alone can plug Mississippi’s brain drain problem. But here’s the thing: the GOP has long aligned itself as the party that looks out for the interests of businesses. The disagreement between Republicans in the House and the leaders of the MEC reveals a subtle split: does the modern GOP want government to fund educational programs that entice businesses to invest and youths to stay, or does it want government to do as little as possible?

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7 Responses to Education’s Ends and Means

  1. Jon Kiesel says:

    While the removal of income tax is generally a good thing for citizens in the state, the scale of one’s benefit from this bill is proportional to their income, meaning that at the transitional instant where the bill gets passed, people with higher income would benefit significantly more than those that are unemployed, extending income inequality – the difference between highest and lowest income. This gilded-age advancement could have drastically negative consequences in the long run.

    As for reorganizing state education, I think there could be some improvements made such that students learn things at a faster rate, or just more things per year. There also can’t be instances where a student is taking two courses that teach the same material, for instance with me taking Chemistry as a Sophomore and Advance Chem I as Junior since one of those courses is just the subset of another. If Advance Chem I was supposed to be a review for Chemistry, then it’s too long as one. Regardless, making changes to our education in favor of more STEM courses to Humanities works and is a good idea, but you obviously can’t remove English or the social sciences since that risks in creating more immorally prone people into society. If you remove History classes, wouldn’t you have more people than not that advocate in repeating something that’s been tried and failed? There’s some balance that’s required here.

  2. Bill Arnoldus says:

    The modern GOP wants to fund educational programs that entice businesses to invest and youths to stay. Mississippi State University has received around $1 billion in funding over the past few years and plans to put that money toward more and more technical related jobs. I don’t know much about the income tax or what effect is has on Mississippi’s government.

  3. Arika Gardner says:

    Removing the state income tax is a pretty good idea. Putting that money back into the pockets of Mississippians, which some barely had, is very helpful. Living in a low-income community, I saw firsthand how hard it is working for so less and taxes taking a large sum of your paycheck. It has left many people with not much to spare after bills and expenses. The Brain-drain has plagued Mississippi for so long and it will take more than just rehabilitation to fix it. Putting more money into education is a great idea, but a reform on what’s being taught should also happen. Children should be getting an early lesson on advanced math skills and reading comprehension. Teaching has to be more effective. Better teachers are needed, especially in those low-income areas, which is why the starting pay raise for teachers should be increased. You can put as much money as you want into schools and educational programs, but it is not guaranteed that children will learn. Better funding is a great start, but the ciriculum also needs change.

  4. Vishnu Gadepalli says:

    Although the state income tax can be burdensome to pay, it might help low income people because they will have more money in their pockets, improving the quality of the individual’s and their family’s life. However, it may not be so beneficial to the public’s quality of life on a broader scale. The income tax goes towards funding roads, schools, law enforcement, and overall improving the community. With the the decreased inflow of money going toward these societal aspects, there can be a deterioration of the quality of life in the long run. Most GOP members are not the biggest fans of the government, but they do acknowledge the influence that it has. It is apparent that there is a shift of thought now within the party, so when it comes to businesses, they want to use the government to their advantage in order to help businesses and boost the quality of education.

  5. Jeremy Dawe says:

    The GOP has aligned itself with the interests of buisnesses, and still does, but it disagrees with MEC on the best way to do that. I agree with the Mississippi economic counsel that reforming education would do more to help buisness than abolishing income tax. The GOP in the House disagrees, but they do not go against the interests of buiness. Instead, they are trying to give Mississippians a larger disposable income. This means that the modern GOP neither wants the government to entice buisnesses to invest and youths to stay, nor do as little as possible.

  6. Dyllon Martin says:

    In this case, income tax removal can be a major fault in the economic value of Mississippi. The state alone holds a very high poverty rate. Giving residents more money can have a bad effect in the case that the extra money is spent unwisely. On the other hand, funding better and more interactive educational programs will brighten the future of Mississippi. Many schools in lower-income towns see mediocre results in their students. One way this can be solved is through bettering the home conditions in which students take part after their school duties are over. Students who have better homes will do better in school mainly for the fact of a lower stress level and a more open and grasping brain capacity. By bettering the educational program, students will have more opportunities to commit to jobs, interests, and hobbies they are best at. Doing this will encourage the malleable minds of the students.

  7. Carolena Graham says:

    I believe that the income tax in Mississippi being eliminated will defiantly encourage “Mississippi’s best and brightest” to stay. Compared to other states who don’t have income tax their brain drain is significantly lower. To reflect on Mississippi’s teacher shortage, let’s compare it to a neighboring state. For example, several teachers are moving to Tennesee because they pay their teachers more and there is no income tax. More money in educated individuals.

    I am currently at the Capital being a Page and had the opportunity to hear the Republican house members’ opinion on Mississippi’s income tax. A bill was just passed in the house to reduce the income limit for working Mississippians from $40,000 and year to $25,000 annually. This is lower than Mississippi’s starting teacher pay. I know that House Republicans favor this but I am unsure about Senate.

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