Thursday, July 05, 2007

Banaian's 25% short principle 

After reading another story about how our desperate school district must ask voters for a levy, I turned to my wife and said, "do you ever recall them saying 'hey, thanks, we have all the money we need this year'?"

She hadn't. If you have, please deposit evidence in the comment box.

An annoyance in this article:
The fall levy campaigns are part of a larger discussion school leaders are having statewide about a need to change the way the Legislature pays for public schools.
Personal to Dave Aeikens: The Legislature doesn't pay for anything. Taxpayers do. The only question is who will be blamed for raising taxes and how effectively the taxes can be hidden from public view. (My old public finance prof called this the Colbert principle.) It should come as no surprise that school district officials want to shift the blame to someone else. Using "the Legislature pays for public schools" is to swallow the bilge the school districts are serving you.

Worth asking: Why should not those who benefit from the school district's services be the ones who pay for it? If you say "those outside the district also benefit", ask whether or not the benefits would have been derived in the absence of any state subsidy. And also ask, does the benefit differ between the larger districts that receive more state school dollars per student than others?

In raising my kids, I've always taught the 25% short principle: The money in your pocket at any time is 25% short of what you think you need. Part of growing up is learning that there are no needs; there are only wants and preferences available at alternative prices. School boards could use some of that maturity.

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