Thursday, March 13, 2003
SEN. RAIKES, STATE AID, AND THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL CAT IN THE HAT
State Sen. Ron Raikes this week declared that LB 540 regarding school tax levies and state aid to education is his priority bill. As chairman of the Education Committee, he's digging in his heels on this one. It would allow a three-fourths vote of a school board -- a handful of people -- to substitute for the wisdom of the school district's total population of voters as being sufficient to order a property tax increase over the Legislature's stated lid.
It can't be constitutional . . . but oh, well.
It's exactly like the old Dr. Seuss kiddie story, "The Cat in the Hat." Remember how the pink bathtub ring got wiped up with a blouse, and then transferred to the bed, and then spread throughout the house? (Hey . . . that rhymes!) Well, so does this: They want to do the same, you know, with what's supposed to be tax-limited dough. (I'm good!)
When the Legislature put the school tax lids in place, the understanding was that school districts would give people property tax relief by cutting school spending. Well, they haven't cut school spending.
THEIR understanding was that, as local property taxes were held in check by the Legislature's lids, state sales and income tax funds would be available to help make up the difference lost in smaller piles of property tax receipts.
But enter the clunky economy and state government's nearly $700 million budget shortfall. All of a sudden, the state's as tight as wallpaper.
So what do the educrats do? Live within their means? Noooooo. They try to switch to a school-board majority vote instead of a vote of the people to jam property tax increases through. Just as the Cat in the Hat took a small problem and made it worse by spreading it all around, this bill would not do what the voters want -- cut unnecessary school spending -- but would continue the upward spiral that is threatening the very future of our public schools.
Lincoln Public Schools voters have turned down tax-lid overrides twice.
Omaha Public Schools voters turned an override down flat, last fall.
Let's all face the Capitol and cup our hands around our lips as we shout loud enough for the senator to hear:
"READ 'EM, RAIKES. NO MORE SCHOOL TAXES! MAKE SCHOOLS CUT SPENDING."
And if you do, Senator, then you won't be the Cat in the Hat. You'll be a cool cat.
Comments: Post a Comment