One ad, two misleading claims from pro-tax PAC

A report released in January by the Rio Grande Foundation detailed how Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales misled the public in his quest for higher taxes to fuel government spending in his city. Now, his political allies and proponents of his regressive beverage tax are taking his deception to new heights with two misleading claims in a single television spot, which features a Santa Fe restaurant owner.

The first misleading claim is that “The tiny two cent per ounce tax is the only way to fund Pre-K.” The PAC running the ad was forced to change this text, which initially declined to mention that the tax was per ounce. A two cent per ounce tax on hundreds of beverages is anything but tiny. The tax on many beverages will cost as much as the beverage itself. And on some products, such as powder lemonade or iced tea mixes, the tax alone will be more than 200 percent the price of the product. Even a tax-lover like Mayor Gonzales can’t call that a “tiny” tax with a straight face.

The second misleading claim is that Santa Fe is “not getting the money from the state” for pre-kindergarten. An analysis of public records conducted by the Rio Grande Foundation found that this is simply not true.

Santa Fe Public Schools have received $5.75 million dollars for pre-k since 2014. State funding available to SFPS has increased by 275 percent in the last three years alone.

United Way of Santa Fe County also receives state funding for its pre-kindergarten program. Their funding from the state has increased by 60 percent since 2014, receiving a total of almost $1.4 million in the last three years.

What have Santa Fe Public Schools and United Way of Santa Fe County done with the $7.1 million in taxpayer dollars meant to fund pre-k? We’re not sure, but they haven’t used all of these additional funds to enroll new kids.

Despite receiving millions of dollars in new and additional state funding, Santa Fe Public Schools and United Way of Santa Fe County are serving fewer kids than they were three years ago.

United Way of Santa Fe County’s enrollment went from 96 students in 2014 to 68 in 2017 – a decline of 29 percent – even though their state funding increased by 60 percent.

At Santa Fe Public School, the $5.7 million it received over the past four years resulted in 11 fewer kids enrolled than in 2014.

Before pushing a massive tax increase that targets the poor and middle class, Mayor Gonzales should have looked to see what Santa Fe Public Schools and United Way of Santa Fe County are doing with the massive influx of state cash for pre-kindergarten programs.

If the need for pre-kindergarten in Santa Fe is as dire as the mayor and his political allies claim, there are probably kids in his community wondering, “Where’s our share, Javier?”

You can see the misleading ad here: