Tuition proposal will pay for itself

August 12, 2006

I appreciate Ruth Callaham's letter of support. I would like to address her question as to the funding for my educational goal that proposes tuition exemptions for higher education programs for Washington County students.

As Callaham and the readers know, education has always been, and continues to be, one of my primary interests. I believe it should be of primary interest to every citizen of Washington County. Education affects every citizen in some fashion. It affects your tax bill, whether or not you have children in the system.

To understand how you, the citizens, are affected, you must look at the big picture. Everyone benefits from a well-educated society. I firmly believe that a strong educational system can be the catalyst for a lower tax bill. This can happen because industries and technological companies will want to locate in Washington County.

Potential homebuyers will be earning higher wages, which will allow them to purchase better homes, and thus produce more income taxes and more excise taxes for the county's budget, creating a win-win situation for you, the citizens - additional revenue and maintenance of stable taxes for all.


It is a proven fact that areas within a county with a highly educated population have higher property values.

Secondly, when quality industries and professional companies locate in the community, the children of Washington County - our leaders for tomorrow - will have the opportunity to fulfill their career plans within a safe, viable and productive community.

Thirdly, a better-educated society produces less crime and creates a safer lifestyle for you, the citizen.

Now to a major concern - will this educational proposal for higher education affect our public school budget? Absolutely not! We must always maintain a challenging and effective public educational system.

I propose establishing a volunteer task force (comprised of retired educators, prominent and interested business leaders and parents) to work closely with the Board of Education and the County Commissioners to study the requested educational budget.

This task force would face the challenge of determining the needs of a 21st-century, world class education system and then distinguishing between needs and wants.

Once the needs were established, all parties responsible for providing for them would make every effort to see that they were indeed met and met in a timely and efficient manner. Then, where possible, efforts would be made to evaluate and satisfy some of the wants.

Ruth Callaham expressed her concern about funding my proposal of free college tuition for our high school graduates. One source would be the excise tax collected by the county from new homes being built.

Another source would be the income taxes created by new and higher wage jobs. And another source would evolve from tightening the belt on spending (again meeting the needs and eliminating the wants).

Lastly, and only as a last resort, monies could be borrowed from the county's massive rainy day fund (surplus gathered over many years of sound management).

No matter how many sources need to be tapped to offer free college tuition, the return on the investment will only give you, the citizens, the most valuable dividend possible - well-educated leaders for tomorrow and the community.

I believe that you, the citizens, deserve a county commissioner with a vision, a proven leader who thinks outside the box. Experience, leadership and compassion are exactly what Paul Swartz brings to the table.

Please visit my Web site and learn more about Paul Swartz. My Web site is

Paul Swartz

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