How should we
finance free education?
Abolishing tuition fees
is not as hard as it looks.
Several measures implemented by the government in every year's budget are much more expensive than the introduction of free education. And most of the time, these regressive measures aim only to please lobbyists or to get re-elected.
Over the last 10 years, many fiscal reforms that benefited businesses and the upper-class could have funded free education in Quebec.
Indexing tax brackets
Reducing tax rates
Abolishing the capital tax
Quebec wouldn’t be alone.
Many countries around the world have already introduced free education. These countries' education systems are recognized throughout the world for the quality of their teaching and for their research. Why not join them?
Taxes, a just financing mode
Tuition fees are a regressive form of financing, that is to say, the amount payable is the same for everyone, regardless of their income. Thus, whether a student – or their parents – earns $10,000 or $60,000 per year, the bill remains essentially the same.
Unlike tuition fees, the income tax is a progressive way of funding, through which each contributes according to their means. Indeed, the income tax depends on the actual revenue of individuals, their ability to pay.
Choosing to collectively foot the bill via taxation is a social contribution to an educated society, at the height of its resources.
The “fair share” of businesses and banks
We always talk about the importance of “tightening our belts” in these times of austerity. It seems that the same advice does not apply to certain companies. Indeed, over the past 40 years, it is increasingly the citizen who assumes the tax burden, while multinationals and businesses see their tax rates drop.
In 1961, the tax income of the Government of Quebec represented a contribution of 39% of individuals and 61% of companies. In 2012, individuals now contribute to 75.5% of revenue in this category, leaving 24.5% for businesses.
Before asking the most vulnerable to pay their “fair share” for education, it might be time to ensure that businesses and banks – which have yet again recorded record-breaking profits this year - do their own!
of the annual provincial budget
In a year, the Quebec government spends about $70 billion. Tuition fees are less than 1% of these expenses. Completely abolishing them therefore represents a relatively small budgetary effort, compared to the hardships faced by students at an economic disadvantage.
Society already funds 75 to 80% [of universities], why not a little 20% more?