A lot of our friends suggest that the question of greater taxation has been settled, that patriotic, adult Americans understand that that they have to be willing to pay significantly more taxes to improve education, infrastructure, health care, and that only rightwing extremists, racist tea baggers, and fanatic libertarians are still concerned about our tax burden.
Apparently not so. Kilroy provided the link that sent me to this March 2008 study by the University of Delaware regarding what kind of tax burden First State citizens would be willing to accept in order to improve public education.
The results are ... surprisingly libertarian for a State that is portrayed as a leading light in the Obama-nation.
Here are the results:
83% of Delaware citizens reject the idea of a sales tax to support education.
76% of Delaware citizens reject the idea of increasing income taxes to support education.
66% of Delaware citizens reject the idea of increasing property taxes to support education.
Consumption taxes fared better:
57% of Delaware citizens approve of the idea of luxury taxes to support education.
51% of Delaware citizens approve of the idea of "vice" taxes to support education.
Broken down by income levels, it is intriguing to find that lower-income Delaware citizens are more likely to reject property tax increases than those making over $75K/year.
The study also discovered that, as a general rule, Delaware citizens are less likely than the national average (by about 5 points) to accept the idea of increasing taxes to support public education.
The truly important thing about this polling data is that traditionally education has been one of the items for which people were most likely to be willing to pay additional taxes. So if folks are leary of having their taxes raised for this, then it suggests that the issue of fairness in taxation is not dead in Delaware after all.
The study did not allow for the high percentage of New Castle County families with children in private schools, nor did it distinguish by age--which is arguably just as important as income level. (It is, after all, usually the retiree community that votes en masse against most increases in schools taxes.)
But it provides substantive data to suggest that those who want to declare taxes a dead issue in the Brave New World aren't in quite as strong a position as they think they are.