Thursday, May 19, 2005
On HB 750 / 755
Real progress on solving one of our state's fundamental problems - underinvestment in poor children because of local taxation for schools - is a good thing. The Trib's analysis made it clear that the bill is a tax hike, not a tax swap, for just about everyone. That isn't enough to bury the bill, if taxpayers can believe the money will actually improve education and not simply disappear down Pate's proverbial rathole. The perception of bloated bureaucracies is powerful and in many cases accurate. That efficiency/accountability piece is what is missing from the 750/755 legislation. If education is going to get more money, then the education establishment should give something up. Perhaps an end to seniority-based contracts. Perhaps a cap an administrative salaries. Perhaps a type of farebox recovery ratio where at least 65 percent of all funds must be spent in the classroom. Something. Or else we are not arming legislators to defend themselves against angry swing voters with a reassuring retort. Finally, I don't recall Speaker Madigan publicly refusing to support the bill. He just hasn't endorsed it. That's a big difference and senators shouldn't hold back because of a prediction on how the bill will fare in the House. That's why we have two chambers. Speaking of predictions, I am guessing that we won't be budgeted by May. Overtime is coming (despite a persistent undercurrent of optimism among legislators).