When is a tax increase not a tax increase? When Jim Dabakis gets involved.

I know I probably pick on Jim Dabakis more than I should, though I don’t think it has yet approached Unicorn-Doug Wright levels. But dang does he make it easy. You can almost count on him making claims that are entirely untrue to score some political points on, well, just about anything. His latest op-ed on education funding isn’t any different.

For starters, he gets a basic fact wrong. “High school graduation rates have plunged”, he claims, yet stories from 2012, 2013, and 2014 all cite improving graduation rates in Utah going back as far as 2008. Additionally, “test scores” is nice and vague so that nothing can, of course, be fact checked. Which test scores are we talking about, Senator?

But then things really go off the rails. A central claim of his proposed changes (which are ones that many, many other people have been working on for years) is that they come with no increase in taxes, yet his second point is, unsurprisingly, a tax increase by repealing the flat tax and going back to a graduated income tax. It’s one thing to say “no tax increases for the average middle class family” and stick to a “soak the rich” strategy, but to claim no taxes at all while simultaneously calling for an increase on upper income brackets takes some chutzpah.

Then there’s the curious case of changing the income tax allocations in our state. At present, income taxes are used to fund both K-12 and higher education. Prior to a 1996 constitutional amendment, it was just to fund K-12 education. The Senator proposes to go back to the pre-1996 system… and makes no mention of what happens when the income tax money allocated to higher ed is suddenly not. I can’t claim to speak for Jim, but I’m reasonably sure that he wouldn’t just grab a chunk of change from the U and not have a plan to put that money back somehow. But, of course, why get caught up in the details of which other programs get cut or which other taxes get raised when you’re high on making a point?

This is unfortunately par for the course for Senator Dabakis (D-wherever a camera is). He tosses out red meat truisms to his base with little accountability for getting, well, basic facts wrong. As much as he enjoys calling his Republican opposition a bunch of low-information ideologues, he sure isn’t doing much to differentiate himself.

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