Fiscal Responsibility Doesn’t Mean Free

In the past week I’ve had to live through two crushing blows to the public schools that I love and believe in. I am a citizen of Cedar Falls Iowa, and this past Tuesday we had a vote for a school bond to build a new elementary, upgrade the others, and generally make sure that we could provide quality education without overcrowding. The bond garnered 57% positive support; unfortunately these bonds require 60% to pass. Instead, our school district will waste more money on portable classrooms and other band-aid solutions, until such a time as funds come available to build. 

This was followed in Thursday by the announcement that Iowa governor Terry Branstad vetoed $55 million for K-12 education, as well as funding for our state universities. To fully understand the underhandedness of this move, one must first understand that the school aid funding was set long (100+ days) after legally required at a 1.25% increase over the past year.  The only way Democrats agreed to this very low funding increase was in exchange for a one-time allotment of $55 million on top. See the problem here? The republicans got exactly what they wanted, which was to shortchange education. 

In both instances, the argument against funding usually is made with the label of “fiscal responsibility.” In other words, the crooks in the school district(s) are only going to waste our money anyways, and I can’t afford more taxes, and they should find another solution. Locally, it was even suggested by the “Vote No” ringleader that the district hold a bake sale. A bake sale, to cover $30 million in needs.

Of course, I’m fairly certain his kids don’t go to the public schools…and neither do many of our state (R) representatives. I get that they have no interest in funding public education, when a lot of that money will go directly toward proud union members like myself who will inevitably vote against them. What they keep your attention off, however, is how much damage this attitude is doing to our communities in the meantime. Oh, we won’t see it yet, we’ll have to wait for these underserved kids to grow up and be under-performing and problem-causing adults. 

What I don’t get is why anyone who does want a good community would ever would vote against a bond or for republican representatives. 

Let me make it very clear. We the people are the government. We elect them to represent us and do what we want. We collectively agree on things that matter like schools, roads, police, etc. We pool our money based on ability to pay (based on income or the cost of our house), and use it to achieve these ends. If you really believe our taxes should always go down and never up, then you don’t actually believe in the value of any of those services I mentioned. It also makes you pretty selfish, in my opinion, as the people without private resources (money for private schools, health care, food, housing) are the ones hurt the most by cutting taxes and spending. 

I know there must be a balance, and that government is as capable as businesses of being corrupt or inefficient. But I think locally, statewide, and nationally we are living through a grand experiment, and time and again, the cutting of taxes and services is showing to be detrimental in the long run. And I believe that I can trust my local school board to spend money wisely, and if they don’t, I’ll remember at election time. But I won’t support starving our children’s education because I don’t trust “the government.” It’s time for us all to stand up for public education and put our money where our heart is. 

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