Giving Paul Wahl a Civics Lesson

October 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm 1 comment

From the realm of the head scratching, check out Paul Wahl’s latest nonsense in the Sun Post;

STAFF COLUMN: We’re not as socialist as some may think

BY Paul Wahl – sun newspapers

We’ve been following the process of setting budgets and determining preliminary proper tax levies for cities, the county and schools for the past few weeks.

A few things are clear in this year’s deliberations. The changes the state made to the Homestead Credit in the waning moments of its special session earlier this year has caused a lot of gray hair. Honestly, the upshot of that change is too complicated to explain to you in the space allocated for this column. What’s worse is that every municipality and school district seems to have a slightly different take on what the impact will be. Here’s my take: Your property taxes may or may not go up, but if they do, your city, school district and county will have had very little to do with it.

Little to do with it?  Really?  Does a city that is fully developed need a community development director and a city planner?  Do we have to pay a city manager $125,000 a year? Could they get by on $115,000 while the private sector has a 10% unemployment rate? Does a Finance Director getting paid $100,00 a year really need a deputy?  And Hennepin County can’t cut anything from their $1.6 billion budget?  Give us a break!

In addition, it isn’t the budget you should be looking at Mr. Wahl, it is the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report or CAFR.  Of course, a real journalist would know that.  The CAFR is where you will find the total cost of government including bonding and special assessments that somehow don’t make it into their budget.  School districts have two budgets; one for operations and one for capital expenses.  The operating budget can go down while the capital one goes up.   We are seeing this in district 281 because of the renovations to Northport and Lakeview elementary schools.  Read that first Mr. Wahl before telling us that there is nothing local government can do.

Polite society doesn’t use tar and feathers any longer, but were we still in those halcyon days, I would recommend that each of our legislators and governor be staked to an anthill and covered in honey. Sad fact is, I’m not sure how many of our legislators actually knew the tax credit was being messed with in the first place since it all came up and was approved before you could blink an eye. Now that’s really an effective way of making legislation, isn’t it? Truthfully there isn’t a legislative incumbent planning to run next year who deserves your vote.

Here’s the other thing that struck me in reviewing dozens of reports on preliminary levy hearings. Minnesota for all of its socialist efforts to share the wealth still manages to have a rather nasty system of “haves” and “have-nots” when it comes to public funding. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If a community wants better schools, it certainly can vote to pony up dollars to make that happen. Right? But then let’s stop the charade that every child is getting the same education if we compare the impact of finances, for instance, in Wayzata School District and Brooklyn Center School District. I don’t believe finances determine outcomes in education 100 percent, but they sure make a big contribution. Knowing what to do with your money also helps. The funding formula for public K-12 schools in Minnesota is tremendously intricate and designed to deal with every known inequity. Yet it doesn’t take much observation to see that it isn’t working.

Well then what are your solutions sir?  More money? What would make all schools equal? Of course, the truth is that no two schools are completely the same.  Here’s an idea; give us vouchers and tax credits so we can SHOP for the education we want rather that throwing money in a black hole!

If you’ve been following national politics, you might see a parallel here between the argument over class warfare in taxing the rich and providing a world-class education for every student in Minnesota.

Making the rich poor will not give everyone a “world class” education Mr. Wahl.  Throwing money at it is not a solution.  And besides, an education is earned, it isn’t given

The system seems to be slightly more fair for municipalities, but if you dig deep enough, you can find inequities there, as well. But in that case it only means you drive on roads with more potholes. You aren’t jeopardizing the future of our state’s ability to provide a high-quality workforce. Final budgets and tax levies must be approved in December. Stay tuned.

Memo to the sun post; when levies are finalized in December, have someone else comment on it.


Entry filed under: Hennepin, Referendum, Taxation.

Good Ol’ Hennepin County Another Letter About Douglas Drive

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. The Big Stink  |  October 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I saw this guy’s response in the Sun-Post-It-Note and had a similar gag response. He’s from the school of ‘if it don’t work, throw money at it’ crowd. And, as for his ‘world-class education’ argument – Harvard and Yale provide world class education – and look how many morons migrate out of there. Garbage in, garbage out.


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