WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Stipend for Private School transportation in Delaware to be axed?

The issue has simmered for years:

Should states whipsawed by tight budgets subsidize transportation for parents transporting their kids to private schools? If those parents can afford to send their kids to private schools, including religious schools, shouldn't the parents be able to afford the additional transportation? And in the latter case, what about church/state separation? Or do the private school parents - as taxpayers like everyone else - have legitimate claim to such stipends? After all, if they dumped all their kids back in the public schools...

Page One of The NEWS JOURNAL today is emblazoned with the headline, "Private School Bus Stipend May Be Axed".

The article chronicles the pushback from private school parents to the Markell Administration's proposed elimination of the stipend with an eye to allocating the money to public school programs.

At least several state lawmakers are adamantly opposed to any attempt to eliminate or shave the stipends.

But Delaware PTA President Teri Hodges raises an interesting point: Parents with kids in a charter school or who send their kid(s) to a public school beyond the normal district lines are responsible for the transportation and don't get stipends. (I want to seek further clarification on that point.)

Another battle royale in the Delaware General Assembly?

Some predictable pushback from Delaware's education blogger---


Posted at 6:36am on February 27, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 8:50am
There is a third alternative. That is to bring in more revenue by eliminating the Billionaire tax credit which undercuts Delaware's state budget by $71 million dollars each year....

Here is the fair assessment of how that would and should be done....

Create a 5 high-income tax brackets for taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $250 k, at levels approaching 1 m, $10 m, $100 m, and $1 B. Allow this increased tax to expire in 7 years.. The adjustments would be as follows.

Imposes a 7.4% tax rate on taxable income over $250,000 but less than $1.000,000-
Imposes an 7.9% tax rate on taxable income over $1,000,000 but less than $10,000,000–
Imposes a 8.4% tax rate on taxable income over $10 m up to $100 m–
Imposes a 8.9% tax rate on taxable income over $100,000,000- up to $1 B.
Imposes a 9.4% tax rate on taxable income over $1 B.

Furthermore, all capital gains should be assessed by the level with which they fall into the categories above. Currently the highest tax rate is 6.95% for all income over $60,000. A travesty really. Someone making $400,000,000,000,000,000 is paying the same rate as someone earning one penny over $59,999.99….

Now if you just want to raise the percent on all top earners, this is the revenue easily grasped..(The calculations were performed by using averages)

According to the 2012 Financial Report of the State of Delaware, there were in 2010,… 4887 people in the top 1% of Delaware’s income… Over ten years, that number increased by 445 people. The average AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of just this 1% was $728,553. if this was the average then the average times the number of people will give us the total AGI for that income bracket…

$728,553 X 4887 = $3,560,438,511 or $3.5 billion dollars of taxable income…..

Here is a chart showing the amounts if we tax this segment additionally…. Currently under old law, the top-bracketed income due for 2014 is to be taxed at a rate of 6.9%…..

2014 @ 6.9% = $245,670,257 …

Now with additional increases in the percentage…….

.5% = $17,802,192 new rate of 7.4%

1% = $35,604,385 new rate of 7.9%

1.5%= $53,406,578 new rate of 8.4%

2% - $71,208,770 new rater of 8.9%

These are the amounts of revenue at our disposal, based off the 2010 data.

These rates compare to New Jersey’s at 8.97%,

Keep in mind these increases are just on the top 1%. No tax increases in this post were considered for those in the 99% category.

And please don’t feel sorry for these people having to pay more. The Dow Jones average gained 26.5% in 2013…

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 9:32am
I've worked in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in addition to Delaware, and all three of those states make transportation available to all students regardless of where they go to school. The only exception that I know of is if Pennsylvania kids go to school more than 10 miles from their home.

Pennsylvania also purchases its students' textbooks. Non-public school parents get no such assistance in Delaware. Our state already does less for its non-public school students than every surrounding state.

Also, Charter schools do not provide transportation to all students, but they do for many. Those schools receive transportation funding from the state, and they keep any leftover money, unlike traditional public schools, which must return the funds to the state.

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 10:23am
My kids are in private school. I receive that transportation stipend. It ain't all that... I don't remember the exact amount, but for 2 kids traveling 7.5 miles each way, I'm pretty sure it was less than $200 last year. Granted, it helped me replace my tires, but still, not something that would kill me if it disappeared.

And I'm by no means "wealthy". We've really had to make significant cuts in our budget to be able to afford private school (and even then, we're in the red these days). But realistically, we don't have an alternative... I'm not sending my kids through the Colonial School District.

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 10:32am
Come on, Shawn, don't lie - YOU'RE RICH!!! Didn't you know all parents of private school parents are loaded? Sorry, you had to cut down from the Esclade to the Tahoe and your wife can't drive the 5 series and had to settle for the 3 series.

All snark aside, we are much like Shawn and choose the private school route for many different options. One of the reasons the private schools want to maintain the sitpend is that the minimal amount back - mine was $142 - is more than not donated back to the school. It's a little tax write-off at the end of the year as a donation.

I remember the first year I got it, I called the school and asked what it was. I had no idea it was a stipend and it really wouldn't affect me either way if they sent it back or not, since I always forget about it (plus it's minimal compared to the monthly tuition)

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 1:34pm
Back up a couple of comments... It would be wise to remember that the State of Delaware pays a higher amount of school costs than any of our surrounding neighbors. Which is why their property taxes are substantially higher. It's the education part that raises it over Delaware's levels.

So, as some above comment on not being rich, it goes back to the fact the top income-earners have not paid their fair share of taxes since 2000 ...which is why our economy is in shambles today.

We could have easily kept this transportation stipend, and raised taxes on those who now sit on all the money, that had taxes frozen at 2000 levels. That moneu would be now in OUR pockets...

They have our money. They should pay our taxes... If they object, then pay us more and we will gladly pay that portion of their taxes (as we used to...) for them.

Thu, Feb 27, 2014 7:34pm
I'm not sure what Kavips is babblin' about up there, but the fact is that people who send their children to private schools still pay the same property taxes as people who use public schools even though they don't use them. Since they're already contributing to the system regardless, then it's only fair they get the stipend. In fact, the school districts should provide buses going to these private schools rather than just handing out a token rebate of a small amount of their taxes.

Fri, Feb 28, 2014 8:23am
Wait, I'm confused.... did the small-government, no-taxes Obama-is-a-communist Liberals-whine-too-damn-much mrpizza just advocate that the state of Delaware should provide something to people who aren't using the system it was created for? My kids are in a private, faith-based school, outside the public school system and all it entails, but the government should still be responsible for driving them to that school? But I thought government needs to be LESS involved in our lives?

You heard it here, folks -- mrpizza has turned Liberal on us!

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Feb 28, 2014 10:27am
Shawn, maybe Mrpizza has kids or grandkids in private faith-based schools. People tend to vote their wallets, or their best interests [my favoring the DEMS, generally, over the Republicans, is due to their strong support of the social-safety net including Social Security, Medicare, Single Payer, School Lunches, Food Stamps, etc,].

Conservatives usually rally against such things, because they don't need those things at the present time and truly don't believe they'll ever need them, so why pay for this stuff for "other folks" who "don't work as hard as them?" [their perception of those needing this stuff].

So it simply may be that Mrpizza's finally found a "socialized" program from which he benefits.

Allan Loudell
Fri, Feb 28, 2014 11:08am
The irony, to me: If one's faith tradition (in this case, evangelical Christian) holds that one should try to put oneself in the OTHER person's shoes - be concerned for one's neighbor - then wouldn't that lead one to try to vote BEYOND one's own self-interest? Perceived impact on nation or world should trump narrow self-interests?

Allan Loudell

Fri, Feb 28, 2014 1:21pm
Oh, absolutely, Allan! In line with what MFD says just before you, that's one of the things I've never understood about Bible Belt Conservatives. They claim to live Jesus's message. But Jesus told us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc... and they want no part of such social-safety net programs like Medicare and Food Stamps. Jesus didn't say, "Feed the hungry... unless you've got too many people gaming the system. Then go ahead and screw them." He said, "Feed the hungry." Yes, people will game the system. But that's no reason to throw out the system, because there are people who legitimately need and use the system properly.

And it goes with my feelings on the original subject of this post. I'm barely making ends meet. But I still chose to send my kids to a private school. The transportation refund is nice, but not really necessary. If it needs to go away in order to better fund programs at public schools, so be it.

But I'm Catholic, not evangelical. And I'm still not sending my kids to the Colonial School District.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Feb 28, 2014 3:48pm
Interestingly, it has been historically, and still seems to be true, that the mainline Christian Protestant faiths such as: Lutheran, United Methodist, Prebyterian, Episcopal, and of course, the Roman Catholic Church, that generally are the sources for most charities, food closets, soup kitchens, shelters, etc., helping the poor, a.k.a. the so-called "Liberal Churches".

The conservative Evangelical non-denominational "big box"-type churches GENERALLY do not do this sort of thing [at least, it was my experience during my years in such churches - unless that has changed greatly since then], other than worldwide missions, and campus ministries, but nothing to help the poor in their local communities. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't know of any in the local area. Yet those same Evangelical non-denominational Churches are filled with politically conservative folks who don't want the government to lift a hand to help the poor, and will say that the church should be doing more of this, so they don't have to pay taxes. Funny, they must mean, those of us in the other churches should do it, since non-denominational churches generally tend not to get involved in such activites. That works well for them; then they don't pay either way, via church tithes and offerings, or the government via taxes. Maybe that's how the Prosperity Gospel works: I get you to spend your money to minister to the lesser than thee, so I get to keep mine thus I prosper.

Fri, Feb 28, 2014 8:21pm
Shawn & MFD: Let me set the record straight. I haven't turned liberal. In fact I think it's a crime for the state to take the same amount of money from people who don't use the schools as those who do, so I'm only advocating the ones who send their kids to private schools get at least some of what they pay for, just as with anything else. When I buy food at the grocery store or gas at the pump, I also want to get what I paid for. It's just plain common sense economics.

And Mike, I believe you are going to have some answering to to when you get to heaven about your speaking evil of the prosperity message. I gave you all the supporting scriptures back awhile ago, so you are without excuse. No, I didn't say you're going to hell, but I believe you will get a talking to when you get up there about speaking evil of a message that Jesus himself said in red letters.

Fri, Feb 28, 2014 8:39pm
By the way Shawn, Obama is still a communist and if he was running against Vladimir Putin for President of the United States I'd vote for Putin. So there!

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Feb 28, 2014 9:57pm
Mrpizza: Thankfully, Our Lord is more forgiving than any of us are. As we all see through smoked-colored glass & won't see clearly until the Christ comes, my guess is Our Lord will have plenty to show us both on where we got it wrong. We both love The Lord, but our understanding of His word in some parts are different. That's why there are so many denominations. Bible scholars are reading the same Hebrew & Greek scriptures & still disagree. You & I are reading English translations, so we may not be getting some suttle nuance in parts of scripture, etc. I just continue to study God's word & allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in understanding. As Galileo famously said, Scripture is always correct, but my understanding of what it says might change as I grow & learn in my life. So I fully expect The Lord to show me where I was wrong. Only a fool thinks he/she knows every page of scripture perfectly.

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