Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garofalo appears in court on child neglect charge

Garafalo confers with counsel
Strib photo
It's the court of public opinion, of course, but that's still a court. The charge was laid, inter alia, in the Strib in an editorial on Sunday: The pass-along pain from school cuts.

Garofalo is a Republican member of the Minnesota House and served last term as the chair of the K-12 finance committee. He mounts his whining defense, Un-huh, don't look at me, in the Strib today.

First, the indictment:
In November, voters in just more than a third of Minnesota's 340 school districts will have school levies on their ballots. They'll be asked either to extend a previously approved tax or to raise property taxes to help local schools.

Traditionally, districts have used referendums to seek funds for buildings, special projects or other educational "extras.'' That's no longer the case.

A majority of the levies on ballots this fall would fund basics such as materials, books, technology and even teachers -- in other words, essential educational assets whose costs used to be covered by the state.

The growing dependence of schools on voter-approved dollars for basics demonstrates an ongoing problem in Minnesota.
The problem, quite simply, is Governor Gutshot and his merry band of Republican ideologues who have kicked the can of school finance -- and damn near everything else, too -- down the road for a decade.

And this absolutely takes the cake, also as recounted in the Strib editorial:
It's even more galling that some GOP lawmakers -- including Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, the chairman of the House Education Finance Committee -- have pledged to campaign against referendums, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Here's Garofalo's stirring defense:
I am simply asking for accountability in this process. Even though districts are receiving $400, $500 and even $600 in per-pupil funding, some DFLers and district officials have falsely claimed that there were cuts, or that failing to pass a second increase in spending would result in cuts.
Accountability is a Republican synonym for "cut."

It isn't accountability you're after Pat. Two things of prime importance to Minnesotans: good schools and an affordable property tax burden. The Republicans took an extra shot at each this year, and Garofalo is justfiably worried about being fingered for the crime of damaging schools and raising property taxes.

Beth Hawkins at MinnPost also explains that Garofalo is being a bit of a manure spreader (the other post title under consideration) with his numbers. As with so many things with these can kickers, there is some accounting trickery involved. Particularly when inflation is factored in, it's no increase at all. (Please read Hawkins' article; it's too lengthy and too good to try to summarize.)

The other sweating defendant in the dock is the Republican Senate tax chair, Julianne Ortman, who was also out with her mea nota culpa in the Strib on Sunday. The thing that she doesn't want you to blame the Republicans for is the increase in local property taxes. Blame your local officials; we had nothing to do with it, squeaks Julianne! We're not cutting LGA! Except that the Republicans did cut LGA several years running, especially for cities "of the first class." Chanhassen, the site of Casa Ortman, is not a city of the first class.

Ortman is another of the bright lights in the Republican party who never heard of inflation.

Of course, there's also the little thing about getting rid of the homestead tax exemption. But I guess that's not the Republicans' fault, either.

With the delivery of property tax statements and the flurry of school district levies for operating funds, the not me act of Pat and Julianne won't play so well, except perhaps in the fat exurban districts where they live.

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