Monday, October 27, 2008

Education is a voting issue in local 2008 races!

I generally agree with the idea that our state is generally well-run fiscally. I am very happy that we have a Rainy Day Fund earning interest and that $100 million in education money was set aside last session. I was fully supportive of the special session and saving the money through ongoing cuts when the forecasts are for state revenues to only get worse.

That said, how would voting for non-incumbents in local races lessen that emphasis on fiscal responsibility? In my opinion—not much at all. The moderate Republicans and many of the Democrats in this state would be hardcore Republicans in other states, while many local Republican legislators like Howard Stephenson and Craig Frank would be marginalized Libertarians. And most of the challengers can only be more trustworthy, more courteous, and more representative than Stephenson, Frank, Curtis, Hughes, Bramble, Buttars, etc.

Thus I feel free to search for candidates who more closely represent my views. It is possible to find legislators who better represent moderate viewpoints and avoid silly partisan power games. It is possible to find legislators who are both supportive of the ideals of public education AND fiscally responsible. Don’t buy into the false dichotomy being preached by many local incumbents: vote for me or Utah’s government will fall to Godless, spend-happy socialists.

Many legislators speak out of both sides of their mouth, constantly explaining how they are handcuffed because the state invests a high percentage of its revenue in education, but then dismissively trying to label voters who prioritize education as “single-issue voters.” Education spending accounts for over half of the money spent by the state government, so why shouldn’t it be at least half of voters’ criteria when selecting candidates? If new legislators would continue the good policies of our current legislature, but support public schools rather then attack them or manipulate their funding through suspect bills, I view it as a moral duty to vote for them.

These are some education issues that I believe are important both in their specific implementation and their longterm ramifications:

1. The voucher debacle willingly undertaken against the wishes of the people.

2. The omnibus education bill passed last session, SB 2, which abused all notions of good government ( besides being unconstitutional according to the Utah State Constitution) by stockpiling popular bills, and then rolling them together with pet projects of the influential Howard Stephenson on the 2nd to last day of the legislative session and passing the whole lot with little debate on the last day.

3. The constant chipping away of the citizens’ right to bypass or overrule those elected to represent them through initiatives and referendums like the one that overturned the voucher law. One of those unconstitutional laws passed this year, SB 53, which took away the right of the people to contest political bodies’ decisions on land use and was just overturned by the state supreme court, could also cost tens of thousands of dollars beyond what the state already wasted defending it if the complainants get their money reimbursed. I fear they have a great case.

4. Legislators lying about voucher opponents and costs (The USU Study), current school expenditures, and their views on public education.

5. Legislators not reading relevant materials to bills they’re discussing or actually visiting schools with programs they are discussing, but instead making decisions about education in Utah based on kook, conspiracist websites for information.

Get informed! Vote!


1 comment:

andbrooke said...

With education dominating the state budget, and 97% of Utah kids in public schools, how can we afford to elect representatives who view public education as a public enemy?