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[Ben]:A thought on local politics Discuss This [0 comments so far] View Comments
A local school district put a referendum on the May 3 primaries ballot requesting for an increase in property taxes. The property tax increase would last for seven years and was projected to raise millions of dollars. School administrators warned of the risks of not increasing taxes by threatening to lay off teachers and cut programs, although no plans were put forward to show how exactly the windfall would be spent, and no mention was made of the approximately $15 million cash reserve.

Letters were sent out by the school district purporting to show how attendance was increasing even as budgets were shrinking. Proponents of the referendum wailed "Won't somebody think of the children?!" while lamenting how much will have to be cut if the taxes aren't raised.

One thing that rapidly became clear was that the school corporation's claims were - as my brother-in-law put it - pretty shady.

A particularly bad example was a graph that was positioned to appear as if it showed that enrollment was still going up and budgets were going down - but the budget axis was actually showing rate of increase - not the actual budget. Given that enrollment was increasing at a slower rate than in years past, you'd expect the budget to increase less, right? It also makes the school corporation's claims about how they are slashing the budget to get by more ridiculous. They claim they have cut something like $4 million from this year's budget. Well maybe so, but that's because their budget increased less than they wanted - not because their actual revenue was decreased by a single penny.

The local teachers union accepted contracts which skipped a raise the past two years. This was presented by some teachers as a magnanimous gesture on their part. Big deal hotshots. A couple of years ago I (along with the rest of my company) took a significant pay decrease and we're still dealing with that. I've never understood the idea that people who feed at the public trough should be protected from any sort of economic repercussions. If budgets shrink (and they haven't, as I mentioned above - they have steadily increased) then people either have to take less money, or you have to fire some people. At my company, that meant firing people and everyone taking a pay cut. Why should teachers, police, politicians, or people who hold any other job be exempt from that basic rule?

Thankfully, the referendum was soundly defeated yesterday. I'm sure they'll propose it again next year, so the fight isn't over.
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