Payback / ROI: More Info

Red-state governments, in particular, often take advantage of higher tax revenue to make tax cuts or credits for taxpayers.  But in some states, such as Arizona, these tax reductions have been so aggressive that they have harmed K-12 funding, including preventing schools from increasing educator salaries adequately.

Tax cuts/credits have also often made it impossible for schools to BOTH increase instruction time for reading, writing & math to improve standardized test results AND to preserve physical, health, & arts education and recess.  Schools have responded by reallocating the de facto capped total amount of instruction time on a “zero-sum” basis into the areas prioritized by state accountability systems:  overwhelmingly reading, writing & math.

This zero-sum approach has unintentionally and tragically sabotaged the entire population’s health—including the health of core red-state political constituencies such as middle- and upper-income white families…where 1 in 4 teens (going on 1 in 3), now have prediabetes.

GDP vs Creativity

At least two other negative unintended consequences have resulted from K-12 disinvestment in our health:

  • Lower GDP from an unhealthier population, due both to absenteeism/“presenteeism” (under-performing at work) and to health care spending for chronic diseases replacing more productive spending. These have reduced “organic” government tax revenue 10-20%, based on Milken Institute GDP shortfall estimates. Ironically, this interrelationship makes large future tax cuts/credits much harder to implement.
  • Our creativity has been harmed by cutting recess and arts education, and over-emphasizing standardized testing.  As a result, our future as the world-leading innovator in so many areas has been weakened—as well as our health.

On the other hand, the potential good news “win-win” from a healthier population is more GDP leading to higher “organic” tax revenue, without raising taxes. For example, Healthy Future US has estimated that improved school health & wellness K-12 can improve health and cut health care costs by 20%.

In Arizona, for example, based on Milken Institute estimates, this implies an increase of at least $10B/year in GDP—which leads automatically to about $1B in new tax revenue, without new taxes. This alone is more than enough to cover the cost of Healthy Students Healthy State.

If you like tax cuts, you should love
healthier habits.

In fact, if as proposed, the state only pays for about one-third of the cost of Healthy Students Healthy State, the state will have a major sustainable surplus in the coming decades from reduced health costs and higher productivity and GDP.  This would make money available to increase other appropriations such as for teacher salaries and/or to increase tax cuts—without increasing tax rates.

No matter where you sit, investment in Healthy Students Healthy State is medically, fiscally & financially, as well as ethically & morally, compelling

Please see our latest slide deck for more details.