Last week, Bluestem posted about Steve Drazkowski's recommendation to constituents that they vote down school levy requests in The shame of southeast Minnesota: Drazkowski tells constituents to starve local public schools.
Sadly, the Draz's talking points are being adopted by the Republican House leadership, who fear their caucus will be correctly blamed for property tax increases. It's unfortunate that they are unwilling to take responsibility for the direct consequences of the budget gimmicks that will force many schools to borrow or ask for levies to be extended or raised.
Bluestem believes when the clown car fits, drive it.
MPR is reporting that GOP lawmakers question need for school district levies:
Minnesota school districts seeking voter-approved tax increases this fall will face something they've never faced before: open opposition from some Republican legislators.
State lawmakers traditionally stay out of local levy decisions. But after delivering a rare funding increase to K-12 school this summer, some Republicans say it's time to speak out against schools that continue to plead poverty.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, said he doesn't like what he's been hearing lately about school district finances. The latest tally from the Minnesota School Boards Association shows about one in three districts are planning to ask voters in November to provide additional operating revenue through local property taxes.
However, many of the levy requests wouldn't raise tax rates:
A large share of the proposed referendums would renew existing levies. In those cases, taxes would not increase.
Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, said voters need to understand the distinction. Croonquist said voters and state legislators should also understand that districts are not seeking tax increases based solely on the outcome of one legislative session.
"The facts are very clear that education funding has not kept pace with inflation in Minnesota over the last decade," Croonquist said. "Consequently, school districts have been trimming and cutting substantially during that time frame. And many of them have now reached a point where there's just no more fat left to cut."
Croonquist said funding situations are unique in every school district. He describes the broad accusations from Garofalo as "unfortunate and unfair."
Garofalo is carrying on about the $50 per student increase in funding, without noting that part of that money will help districts pay the interest on loans schools will need because balancing the budget borrowed from education funding.
Why are the House Republicans in attack mode? From Capitol View's Daily Digest:
Tidbit: The unprecedented move shows that Republicans are concerned that they will be blamed for the financial woes of schools. It also highlights the coming election battle over property taxes.
MinnPost says the House GOP is using an accounting trick to claim that schools are seeing a big bump in pay.
That MinnPost article, by Beth Hawkins, walks readers through the voodoo accounting the House GOP is talking to avoid getting stung by their own deal. It's a long but worthy read.
Image: Chocolate zombie Draz bunny, eating your children's brains, one shameless lie about public schools in each bite. By Tild.