A Penny for Your Thoughts on Taxes

Sue Stember takes part in the Coalition for Peace Action's Penny Poll.

As people dropped their tax returns off at the post office today, the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action asked them to weigh in on how they want those tax dollars spent through the  annual “Penny Poll”.

Supporters of organizations like Moveon.org participated the event, waiving posters with slogans like “The 1 percent should pay their fair share”, “Evict the bailed-out CEOs from Wall Street” and “Would Jesus let it trickle down?”

The Penny Poll was conducted from noon to 1:30 p.m. in front of the Palmer Square Post Office in downtown Princeton. As people approached the post office, they were invited to express their opinions by distributing 10 pennies between five categories of federal spending: education, environment, health care, housing, and military.

Health care and education were the top priorities, followed by the environment and housing. Military spending ranked last of the five categories.

The complete results:

After voting, participants were handed a fact sheet showing that 52 percent of the federal “discretionary budget” for fiscal year 2010 was for military spending. Discretionary spending is what Congress can allocate for what it chooses each year, as distinct from entitlements. Discretionary Budget Funding for Education was just 7 percent; health care was 5 percent; environment was 3 percent; and housing was 4 percent.

“This year’s results remain consistent with results from over many years. Taxpayers want more of their hard-earned tax dollars going to education, environment, and health care, and far less to military purposes,” said the Rev. Bob Moore, executive director of the Coalition.

Moore said total military spending for the 2011 fiscal year was $699 billion, or an average of $5,894 per household, the highest level since World War II.

“We encourage taxpayers to contact their elected representatives to urge them to support more peaceful federal budget priorities,” Moore said.