In the past few years, there has been a serious lack in school construction for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), causing a $2 billion school maintenance backing. To reduce the maintenance backing and progress in building new schools, several Prince George’s legislators have proposed raising sales taxes within the county to 7 percent.
Proponents of the sales tax change argue that the new school facilities are essential for improving the quality of PGCPS students’ education. Delegates Jay Walker and Alonzo Washington proposed the additional sales tax. In an interview with the Gazette, Walker stated, “If we are going to give our students a 21st century education in safe, modern buildings, then we need to get our schools in shape.”
The proposed sales tax is an additional one percentage point to the current six percent sales tax, and any revenue generated from this extra one percent would go directly to school construction. This tax increase would contribute approximately $60 million to PGCPS renovations alone.
Many Montgomery County students support a similar proposal for their own county. “Schooling is definitely the most important thing and should be the number one priority in Prince George’s County. Even though it may result in bad consequences for businesses, education is, again, the most important thing,” said freshman Iman Durrani of Churchill High School.
Sophomore James Gao of Montgomery Blair High School agrees, citing the necessity of additional funding for school “because the education system in America is pretty bad right now.”
Although many students agree with Walker and Washington’s proposal, others, like freshman Emily Xu from Whitman High School, would oppose a higher Montgomery County tax. “I don’t like high taxes. I think people should be able to spend that money on other stuff and well, although schools are important, I don’t think an extra tax is reasonable,” says Emily.
Emily’s point is well heard in Prince George’s debate over the additional tax. Opponents such as Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable CEO M.H. Jim Estepp insist that it would pose greater burdens on businesses, which are already hurt by Maryland’s high tax rates and minimum wage. As Estepp said to the Gazette, “[the proposed higher tax] imposes additional regulations on businesses, additional requirements. It sends a message that we’re not business friendly, and I don’t think that’s the message we want to be sending right now.”
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Isabelle Zhou