Educational Spending Accountability
The "education Governor" might forward the notion of accountability in next week's legislative special session:
The purpose of the special session, to make the necessary reforms so that Tennessee can compete for federal "Race to the Top" education funding, is laudable, but considering the rather broad language used in the Governor's official call, what would prevent the Legislature from enacting a tax increase to fund many of the education initiatives that the Governor outlined in his proclamation of the special session? We do know that this Governor has a history of allowing for tax hikes and calling them "fee increases," and based on that record we can only be left with the possibility that the Governor might try to push such a hidden measure in the special session.
Some readers may say "now Oatney, aren't you in favor of investing as much into education as we can, considering that so many school systems in Tennessee are in such dire straits." I do indeed favor a shift in priorities in favor of education, but up to now I have not been overly impressed with where Governor Bredesen has placed his educational dollars. He insists on investment in his treasured pre-kindergarten program while many secondary schools in rural areas are falling down around the students inside them. In my home county of Jefferson, the high school needs replaced and the curriculum is in dire need of an update, but in the meantime the current high school needs some renovation just to make it usable for a seemingly ever-increasing student population. "Oatney," you say, "doesn't that reality necessitate a tax increase." Jefferson Countians approved a sales tax increase to fund new school construction in an August 2008 referendum, and Jefferson County's wheel tax-which was originally approved in the 1970's solely for the construction of the current Jefferson County High School-has been doubled, all in the name of increasing education funding. Property taxes continue to rise, but citizens simply aren't getting value and results for their education dollar.
Labels: Conservatism, Democrats, Republican Party, Tennessee politics