With total control in St. Paul, only the DFL can stop the DFL from gratifying every repressed spending wish from the past six years. Supporters like Education Minnesota should be somewhere between confident and jubilant. The Education Finance Working Group, a group of “earnest education stakeholders” appointed by the Minnesota Education Commissioner came up a new funding model ready to enact in 2013. It features long sought formula increases, all-day Kindergarten and restoration of the Integration Aid redirected by the GOP Legislature last term. What’s not to like? It’s for the children!
And then comes this almost shocking Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial that defies decades of precedent, claiming that its costs are unrealistic.
Most of the group's suggestions are worthy goals. The trouble is that the plan, like several predecessors, would require a significant infusion of new state money -- about $634 million more annually. And given the state's projected $1.1 billion deficit, that's likely a nonstarter.
Don’t they remember the large tax increases Governor Dayton proposed, including a 10.95 percent top income tax bracket, plus a 3 percent point surtax, allegedly temporary for 3 years? And what better to spend that money on than education? Transit, that’s what, says another Star Tribune Editorial.
A recently released Itasca Project study makes the point. Viewed through green eyeshades, it concludes that if the Metropolitan Council's 2030 transportation plan is implemented, the return on investment will be robust. And if the build-out is sped up by seven years and there's more focused, private-sector growth near planned transit stations, the returns are even better.
A locomotive could fit through the many holes and faulty assumptions of this report. If every train on the Metro Transit drawing boards is built, it too will require several hundred million more dollars in subsidies. The plan delivers nothing to Minnesota but a reduced standard of living, and yet the much more thoughtful education plan that at least provides some value is the one that’s unrealistic!
Once the 800 pound gorilla in St. Paul, K-12 Education was politically eclipsed by Human Services (welfare) spending a few years ago. Today it falls to third place, behind another form of welfare: Urban Planning.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Speed Gibson.