Clippings: Facts on taxes, health care, schools

As every politician reminded us in November, the hot topics as lawmakers return to Montpelier next month will be school funding and health care.
With that in mind, it’s time for some facts and figures, presented as context and without comment.
•  Vermont in 2011 stood at ninth among U.S. states in the level of state and local taxes as a percentage of residents’ income, at 10.5 percent.
The national average in 2011 was 9.8 percent; 33 states nicked residents for at least 9 percent of their incomes in taxes. Rates ranged from 6.9 percent in Wyoming to 12.6 percent in New York.
•  In overall taxation for income and social security, the United States ranked 30th among the 33 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations in taxes as a share of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. (Turkey, Chile and Mexico kept the U.S. out of last.)
Those figures do not include property and other state and local taxes, but the source (theatlantic.com) notes that the other countries almost all impose a Value Added Tax (VAT) and states, “In other words, the U.S. relies uniquely on personal tax rates to raise revenue — and we have relatively low personal tax rates.”
The other 32 countries also have universal health care, which increases taxes but lowers or eliminates individual medical bills.
•  According to the World Happiness Report, the U.S. comes in at No. 11 for the contentment of its citizens. The top 10 are Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.
•  At theatlantic.com the top 10 countries in the World Happiness Index are rated as follows in the level of overall taxation as part of GDP: Denmark, 1st; Finland, 6th; Norway, 8th; the Netherlands, 10th; Canada, 24th; Switzerland, 26th; Sweden, 2nd; New Zealand, 21st; Australia, 28th; and Ireland, 26th.  
•  The U.S. spent in 2012, according to OECD figures, $8,508 per capita on its residents’ health care.
Next in line was Norway, where the per capita figure stood at $5,609. The U.S. figure was 33.3 percent higher.
The rest of the top 10 per capita OECD health care spenders that year ranged from France at No. 10 ($4,118) to Switzerland at No. 3 ($5,643).
•  For that cost, the U.S. is 34th in the world in life expectancy, wedged between Costa Rica and Finland, and 34th in infant mortality, sandwiched by Cuba and Malta, per Wikipedia.
•  One news source stated the results of a five-nation survey in 2004: “One-third of Americans told pollsters that the U.S. health care system should be completely rebuilt, far more than residents of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the U.K. Just 16 percent of Americans said that the U.S. health care system needs only minor changes, the lowest number expressing approval among the countries surveyed.” That source was Fox News.
According to a regular Commonwealth Fund international healthcare survey, this one in 2011: “Among the 11 nations studied in this report — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States — the U.S. ranks last in performance, as it did in … 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004.”
Among survey categories, the U.S. finished last in “access,” “equity” and “efficiency.”
•  In 2013, according to CBS News, “The United States spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system — more than any other nation covered in the report … Switzerland’s total spending per student was $14,922, while Mexico averaged $2,993 in 2010. The average OECD nation spent $9,313 per young person.”
And then, finally, schools and health care meet:
•  In Vermont, according to vpr.net, “Spending on public education as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product … has gone unchanged for the last 20 years — it accounts for about 5.5 percent of overall economic activity. Compare that to the cost of health care, which went from consuming 10 percent of the state GDP in 1992 to 20 percent today.”
•  In Vermont, according to a report commissioned by the Vermont School Boards Association and released this fall, “Districts could see a $39 million statewide drop in health care premium costs if school districts offered gold level insurance plans to school staff under the exchange …”
Under a single payer initiative, school districts could save between $83 million and $119 million in premiums, and taxpayers would see a drop in property tax rates of between 8 cents and 12 cents per $100 of assessed property.”
•  taxfoundation.org/article/annual-state-local-tax-burden-ranking-fy-2011
•  www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/01/how-low-are-us-taxes-compar…
•  www.earth.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs%20Writing/2012/World%20Happi…
•  digital.vpr.net/post/spending-problem-education-some-challenge-argument
•  vtdigger.org/2014/10/27/study-health-care-reforms-save-property-taxpayers-tens-millions-dollars
•  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_%28PPP%29_per_capita
•  www.foxnews.com/story/2004/10/29/us-trails-others-in-health-care-satisfa…
•  www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror
•  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
•  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

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