I must have hit on a good topic last week as it relates to how the State of Colorado underfunds schools in District 51. I still find myself in conversations with folks who feel strongly about Proposition 3B in Mesa County.
The overwhelming sentiment in those communications is that we can’t afford to leave our kids in the lurch in terms of funding on education. Something I agree on as well.
And that was exactly the main point of my previous article. Everyone agrees on the importance of educating our kids. And while we might disagree on just what that education should be made up of, there’s no question this should be a priority in our local and state budgets. This agreement is so overwhelming the voters of Colorado approved a constitutional amendment to ensure funding would always be available. That is, of course, until the politicians got hold of it.
I know that many Colorado politicians blame the tough economy and its effects on tax and revenue collections, and there is no doubt recessions indeed have negative consequences on revenues. But that’s not what Amendment 23 is about. It’s about continually adding funding for the education of our children on a yearly basis. Taxpayers believe they took the extra step in mandating this spending by making it a constitutional amendment to assure its adherence. But they would be wrong.
As is the case with all too many good-intentions-based legislation, it was embraced until there was a convenient reason that it wasn’t. In this case, as soon as there was a serious recession. But it really wouldn’t matter what the reason was when you have elected officials to whom the law means, obviously, very little. How else can this possibly be interpreted based on the simple fact the Legislature has not budgeted the appropriate funding for the last two years? So I think it’s time to press your elected representative — regardless of party — and ask them “Where are the education funds?”
I wouldn’t expect too much of an answer given that the Legislature didn’t have a lot of time to really make the tough choices to adhere to Amendment 23. After all, this legislative session had more than 600 new pieces of legislation swirling about that were obviously just as important, or possibly more important in some cases, than funding the education of kids in Colorado. What other conclusion can be drawn? (And on a personal note, how in the heck can the state need 10 or 20 new laws, let alone 600?)
The only thing I can see that would be worse is to create legislation here locally to cover for the mismanagement of funds at our state level. To create another law or other legislation that would be placed on top of a law that was created to address a specific problem is the bulls-eye definition of insanity. It is exactly the kind of behavior I expect from politicians, But to have people hornswoggled into voting for Proposition 3B — that gives politicians we hired to do specific job a free pass — is unquestionably worse.
I say worse for many reasons as they relate to laws, regulations and worthless legislation. Piling on more legislation and money to take care of something that has legislation already written and money spent on it is what political leaders do, not common sense voters.
Right now in Washington D.C., the Obama administration is arguing that the “rich” need to pay their fair share in taxes. Don’t we have something on the books called the Alternative Minimum Tax that was designed to address that very issue from back on the 1960’s? How about all of FDR’s legislation to address the same problem? And yet as a nation, we let Congress ignore laws in place and heap on more that won’t address the situation.
How about health care reform? Was there really a need for ObamaCare legislation considering we have Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, countless state and local agencies to help with the uninsured and a federal law that says no one can be turned away for emergency medical attention at any hospital? And yet, Washington passed the bill against the will of the people and is in the midst of creating another layer of needless bureaucracy.
How about ignoring existing laws? A little closer to home the “Occupy Grand Junction” gang was allowed to camp out at the courthouse even though there’s a statue forbidding that very thing.
So the conclusion I have come to is that legislative bodies exist not to address the needs and desires of the people that elected them, but to write or ignore laws at their whim. And not just any laws, but laws that are not needed, laws that address situations that have already been addressed, laws that have been purposefully written to have no value whatsoever, laws that benefit special groups to the exclusion of others, laws that pay people to not do things like produce or work and, of course, laws that you would swear were made up during a four-day Vegas bender. Otherwise, I simply can’t explain any of it.
But in retrospect, there ought to be a law: one that eliminates the possibility of the government doing any of the above.