Heartland Institute Policy Brief: ‘21 Reasons Why the San Antonio Pre-K Tax Plan Is a Bad Idea’

Published October 2, 2012

Jeff Judson, a San Antonio resident and senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, has authored a policy brief released this week titled “21 Reasons Why the San Antonio Pre-K Tax Plan Is a Bad Idea.”

Judson, the former president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has been a leading voice against voter approval of the Pre-K for SA ballot initiative, an 1/8th-cent sales tax initiative that would fund full-day preschool for thousands of the city’s four-year-olds. Judson has made several appearances in San Antonio-area media in recent weeks. Read and listen to those appearances at Heartland’s Pre-K page.

In this policy brief, Judson makes many strong arguments against passing the Pre-K for SA initiative, including:

  • The effort is being rushed and not ready for a vote. Mayor Castro recently stated to the Texas Tribune, “We set actual goals” by which the program can be judged. But no such goals have been defined yet.
  • Thousands of San Antonio citizens could be paying the new tax for a program their children are ineligible to participate in.
  • The “Municipal Development Corporation” provided for in the initiative is not bound to the promise of providing pre-K education, but can reinvent itself according to the political whims of its unelected governing board to do things such as give out scholarships, make grants to public or private universities, or anything else justified as “development of a skilled workforce.”
  • The city-run pre-K centers would spend $15,500 per child, which is a third more expensive than the most expensive private schools in the city.
  • Sixty percent of Texas four-year-olds are already enrolled in government preschool programs, and 44 percent are enrolled in private preschool. (The percentage is 104 percent because some children are enrolled in both programs.) All told, Texas has more children enrolled in Pre-K programs (239,030) than California, Illinois, and New York combined, which suggests this is a program in search of a problem to solve.
  • The Pre-K for SA tax will be difficult to repeal even if the program is proven to be a failure.

Read the entire report at Heartland.org, and search for more Heartland research and articles on pre-K education programs, including Head Start, at PolicyBot.

About Jeff Judson: He is a senior fellow and member of the Board of Directors of The Heartland Institute. He is the former president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Under his leadership the TPPF became one of the largest and most influential free-market state think tanks in the U.S. and became known for its influence on public opinion, the news media, state legislators, and top elected officials.

To contact Mr. Judson for an interview, email him at [email protected], or contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.