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EXHIBIT B.-Potential increase of “current expenditure" levies constitutionally
authorized for West Virginia's school districts at the 1958 general election (compiled by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Mar. 10, 1959)
$288, 808 695, 982 727, 408
354, 175 1, 105, 451 3, 753, 526
218, 901 252, 473
285, 482 1, 476, 413
250, 961 153, 260 690, 734
263, 889 1, 625, 323
190, 619 2, 254, 041
388, 349 6,877, 194
373, 613 1, 701, 832 1, 958 427 1, 448. 310
777, 251 1,668, 478
418, 038 1, 144, 402 1, 358, 253
263, 682 1, 609, 686
438, 564 2,389, 073
143, 068 314, 324 250, 624 747, 044
658, 530 1, 332, 766
536, 624 339, 677 370, 840 350, 712 415, 841 166, 747 257, 972 432, 012 939, 165 266, 464 588, 072
77, 944 1, 864, 918 1, 137, 868
STATEMENT OF THE WEST VIRGINIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DOCUMENTING ITS
SUPPORT OF MEASURES DESIGNED TO INCREASE LOCAL REVENUES FOR WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
As background for the statements which follow, we cite official records which show that State aid and teacher retirement appropriations of the Legislature of West Virginia to local schools have approached, equaled, or exceeded 60 percent of the total State and local revenues of such schools for each of the past 12 years. The paucity of local school support and the relative generosity of State support of such schools are confirmed by the National Education Association, reports of which organization show that West Virginia stands ninth among the States in ratio of State to local financial support of schools. This continuing imbalance has been criticized by one respected legislative study commission after another, beginning with that of the Strayer Commission published in 1945. Nearly a score of distinguished out-of-State educators comprised the Strayer staff, and significantly its chief statistician and research associate was Mr. Sam M. Lambert, now research director for the National Education Association. In 1945 when State aid and retirement appropriations of the West Virginia Legislature for local schools totaled only $19,842,696, and local revenues for such schools totaled $16,137,746, the Strayer Commission recommended that no further appropriations of State funds be made until the ratio of local support was substantially increased. Nevertheless, for the 1958–59 school year appropriations of State aid and teacher retirement funds totaled $62,019,680, and local revenues only $41,993,089. In 1945 the State furnished 55 percent of total Statelocal school revenues in West Virginia. Despite the Strayer and other recommendations the figure had grown to 60 percent for 1958–59.
In the above background the West Virginia Chamber has consistently opposed all of the numerous increases of State appropriations made for local schools since 1945 and just as consistently has vigorously advocated increased property tax levies for school purposes. The West Virginia Chamber is clearly on solid ground in advocating sharp increases in school revenues from local property taxes. A current report of the U.S. Census Bureau (G-CGA-No. 8) shows that 1957 property tax collections made for all purposes in West Virginia were only $28.36 per capita, yet West Virginia is one of the most richly endowed of all the States with natural resources. West Virginia's coal, gas, oil, salt, stone, and timber resources are fabulous but her population is sparse and still the State ranks third from the bottom of the list of States in per capita property taxpayments. Although 62 percent of all local property tax revenues are allocated to schools in West Virginia, the per capita property taxpayment for school support was only $17.58 in 1957-58 and property tax revenues for schools were only $86.27 per enrolled pupil for that year.
Constitutional restrictions hampered school financing progress in some cases for which reason the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce began in 1948 and has repeatedly thereafter supported amendments to the State constitution. In 1950 an amendment, adopted with complete chamber support, increased school building bond authority by $79 million. Since 1953 the chamber has repeatedly urged voter approval of another constitutional amendment (finally adopted November 4, 1958, by a vote of 282,423 to 165,741) which provided (a) $76 million of additional school building bond authority for the 55 county school districts, and (6) $15 million of additional levy authority for current school expense in these 55 county districts. Nearly $11 million of the new levying authority for current expense belongs to the 34 counties with 85 percent of the State's pupils, where maximum school levies were previously laid and where it is believed a major portion of the $11 million will be promptly voted for current expense purposes, effective with the 1959–60 school year. For the benefit of those who may be skeptical about school board or voter approval of the excess school levies made possible by this constitutional amendment, it may be pointed out that school boards have already scheduled votes in Boone, Brooke, Kanawba, Marshall, Mineral, Mingo, Preston, Raleigh, Wayne, Wetel, and Wood Counties on 100 percent excess school levies, and the voters in Ohio County are likewise scheduled to vote on a 75 percent excess school levy, all within the next 90 days and for the 1959–60 school year. These 12 counties account for 37 percent of the total elementary and secondary school enrollment of the State, and if the proposed excess levies are approved, the current expense funds of these 12 counties will be increased by an aggregate of $5,196,758 for the 1959–60 school year. Votes are also scheduled in Kanawha, Ohio, and Wood Counties before the end of the current school year on the issue of $29,350,000 of school building bonds, which figure may be compared to the statewide total of $40,342,000 of such school building bonds now outstanding. Since the West Virginia Legislature did not finally adopt until 2 weeks ago the enabling legislation which implements the "Better schools” amendment to the constitution, it is logical to assume that a number of other counties will vote upon and several will undoubtedly approve excess school levies and building bond issues before the next school year begins.
During the calendar years 1957 and 1958, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has also avidly supported the property reappraisal and revaluation program, including an employer-financed appropriation of $5 million made by the 1957 legislature to carry out the 3-year program. In some quarters it is estimated that this program, when completed, will approximately double the present volume of property assessments in West Virginia. Since 62 percent of the levies laid on assessments automatically go to the school boards for current expense purposes, this program may eventually provide $40 million annually of new school revenues.
It should be noted however that every effort has been made by the West Virginia school lobby to minimize, belittle, and stigmatize the efforts of the West Virginia Chamber to improve the local revenue position of West Virginia's public schools. The chamber has been severely castigated in the "School Journal" of the State education association and in other such media because the chamber opposed the association's so-called incentive plan for local school support. This plan, offered in the 1958 and 1959 sessions of the legislature requires the appropriation of approximately $15 million of State aid to local schools (over and above the present $62 million) and requires that this additional $15 million of State aid be "matched” by only $419,000, or 3 percent of local funds. The chamber's opposition to this and repetitious earlier proposals of the same general character has been solidly based upon the firm recommendations of the distinguished educators who served on the Strayer commission in 1945 and on the Lindman commission in 1956. The conclusions of the Governor's Commission on State and Local Finance in 1954 also support the position of the chamber on local school financing.
Opposition of the West Virginia chamber to such proposals as the 1957 and 1958 incentive plans has necessarily been vigorous and occasionally noisy. Opposition of the character is required because on page 584 of the November 1958 issue of the Journal of the National Education Association, it is reported that 25 school teachers were found by a NEA survey to be serving in the 132-member West Virginia Legislature, whereas only 76 teachers were then serving in the legislatures of the other 45 States which participated in the NEA survey.
More than 7,000 senators, delegates, and assemblymen serve in these 46 State legislatures, indicating that teachers are outnumbered 92 to 1 in the other States and are outnumbered only 5 to 1 in West Virginia where State aid appropriations now regularly equal the total salaries paid to all of the State's 17,000 elementary and secondary schoolteachers. To put it in other words and baldly, teachers in large numbers now vote in the West Virginia Legislature to increase the funds from which their own salaries are paid, and the protest of the State chamber against such procedures are, therefore, fully justified.
Filed with the committee clerk for inspection by committee members if desired are copies of 14 membership and legislative bulletins of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued from November 20, 1956, to February 21, 1959. These bulletins are marked to show the numerous favorable references to proposals for increased revenues for public schools. Included are bulletins to members, Nos. 277, 278, 282, 283, 287, 294, 296, 297, and 299, and legislative reports to members, Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.
(Information referred to was filed with Subcommittee on General Education and is available for committee reference.)
It is a paradoxical fact that during the past 2 years and earlier the publications of the West Virginia chamber have been so perponderantly devoted to supporting the adoption of constitutional amendments and the passage of legislation designed to improve property assessment procedures and the increase of school levies, that the tax-exempt status of the organization may be questioned by the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr. BAILEY. The subcommittee will stand in recess until 10 o'clock Friday morning.
(Whereupon, at 11:50 a. m., the committee recessed, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Friday, March 13, 1959.)
SCHOOL SUPPORT ACT OF 1959
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 1959
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 429, House Office Building, Hon. Cleveland M. Bailey (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Bailey, Thompson, Udall, Brademas, and Hiestand. Also present:
Robert E. McCord, clerk of the subcommittee. Mr. BAILEY. The subcommittee will be in order.
The Chair recognizes a member of the staff to offer for introduction in the printed record any material from those who could not attend the hearing in person.
Mr. McCord. Mr. Chairman, we have a publication called "News and Cues,” from the education department of the chamber of commerce, which consists of an article written by Allen P. Burkhardt of Stanton, Nebr., who asked that that be his statement in lieu of appearing in person.
Mr. BALIEY. Without objection, it will be accepted for inclusion in the record.
Mr. McCord. We have a letter, accompanied by a reprint of an article from Space Digest of 1958, written by Donald W. Douglas, of the Douglas Aircraft Corp.
Mr. BAILEY. Without objection, it will be accepted for the record.
Mr. McCORD. We have letters from Robert E. Hald, South Dakota Education Association; Eli H. Cohen, executive secretary, National Child Labor Committee; Bernice A. Buchanan, president of the Carver Federation of Teachers, Ferndale, Mich. A letter from Gordon L. Hill, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, Hartford, Conn. Letter from Gladys R. Messee, president of the Idaho Federation of Teachers. _A telegram from Vincent J. Young, president, local 481, American Federation of Teachers, Newark, N.J.
Mr. BAILEY. Without objection they will be included in the printed record.