Prepared Text for Board Meeting – May 21,  2007 (Best Resolution)

Marc A. Schare

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The proponents of this resolution are asking a simple question. Why not put the constitutional amendment on the ballot so that Ohioans can talk about school funding? What’s the harm?

 

Before delving into the guts of this resolution, I have to point out that while the “whereas” clauses as written are indisputable in that the statements attributed to the third party (amendment proponents) are undeniably true, the “Therefore be it resolved” section does not follow from the whereas clauses. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that placing this amendment on the ballot will result, as the resolution states, in “further engaging the citizenry of Ohio in a healthy and necessary discussion of the requirements and alternatives to assure every child in Ohio access to a high quality education”. Just like the TEL amendment proposal did not serve to engage the citizenry in a discussion about state spending, all this would do is engage the citizenry in a discussion about this specific proposal.. Want proof? The discussion so far in Worthington has been about the nature of the blank check, not about school funding in general. We have discussed this specific proposal, and that is all that we will discuss. The discussion that the proponents wish to have is best left to legislative races, gubernatorial races and races for the state school board.

 

Folks, we have a special responsibility here. We have an obligation to offer our constituents our very best judgment with regard to issues both inside of Worthington and outside of Worthington. We have an obligation, on statewide issues, to put our constituents first. We have an obligation to represent the interests of Worthington School District Taxpayers, Worthington School District families, Worthington School District employees and Worthington School District students. We can worry about kids across the state and it is human nature to do so, but I don’t represent them, I represent Worthington. Now, back to the question.  What’s the harm of placing the amendment on the ballot?

 

We must start with the premise that the amendment is bad for Worthington. Our treasurer produced a simulation that demonstrates that Worthington will receive no additional state money until the year 2015. We will have to be on the ballot twice between now and then. The amendment, if passed in 2007, will result, and please folks, let us at least be honest with Worthington about this, result in massive tax increases. The Legislative Service Commission estimated 1.8 Billion dollars, and those were just known costs excluding the actual effect of providing the blank check to the state board of education. The taxpayers of Worthington are not going to, after writing those income tax checks and paying new sales taxes, turn around and vote to give us property taxes as well. You can beg them, threaten them and plead with them, but that 20% in the middle that always seem to swing will say no. They will say that they’ve done our share, and you know what. They will be correct. If the framers of this amendment wanted Worthington to support it, they should have consulted with someone in Worthington before coming out with a proposal that is inarguably bad for Worthington, at least until 2015.

 

 

Now, to the question, what’s the harm? The first harm is that our endorsing ballot access gives the residents of Perry County, of Cuyahoga county, of Athens county and of counties all across this state the right to choose to take money from Worthington taxpayers and redirect that money to their own school districts. Worthington is already a donor district and Worthington taxpayers are tapped out. They only have so much that they will donate to the cause of K-12 education. Because this board and this superintendent have demonstrated fiscal responsibility as evidenced by our five year forecast, they will continue to fund our program so long as we continue to demonstrate that we value their sacrifice and that we are not wasting it, but they will not fund our program if a constitutional amendment to “fix” the problem is passed.  But Marc, you say, aren’t all kids in Ohio entitled to an education? Yes, public education is the cornerstone of our society. I believe that as much as I believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility, but, my job on this board is not to represent those kids, my job on this board is to represent the citizens, taxpayers and students of Worthington, and if Worthington taxpayers decide that they’ve had it with taxes as a result of this amendment, what we do here will suffer.

 

So what’s the harm? The second harm is that the amendment might actually pass. I’ve discussed the many ways that this amendment is bad for Ohio. If there is a piece of legislation on the table that is bad for my district and bad for my state, I do not vote to let others decide. I take a stand. When an equally destructive piece of legislation appeared from the right in 2005, the TEL amendment, education advocates and others, the “Let the people decide” crowd, weren’t quite so willing to trust the judgment of Ohioans back then. There were court challenges to petition signatures and a desperate, and ultimately successful, attempt to get that legislation off the ballot. Apparently, we believe that we should let the people decide things that we agree with, but maybe not so much those proposals which we don’t agree with.

 

Folks, this resolution endorses the notion that voters across the state should be able to decide whether or not they want to pick the pockets of Worthington Taxpayers and take from them money that would otherwise have gone towards the education of their children. I will not voluntarily give Ohioans that right and I respectfully ask my colleagues to vote no on this resolution.