Thursday, January 6, 2011

Here Come the Carrots and the Sticks

The astute political observer watches how debates are framed. Governor Brown insiders are explaining how he will use the threat of "drastic cuts" to education to "galvanize powerful education support for tax hikes in a June special election."

California Schools Chief Tom Torlakson has "declared a state of financial emergency" in the schools while admitting his options for addressing this problem are limited. He urges Californians to support "an extension of current tax levels now set to expire, to prevent another round of devastating cuts to schools."

Framing a debate ignores other options including the concept of "permanent reset." Dan Walters says:
"Brown's greatest barrier may be his fellow Democrats in the Legislature, who have very close political ties to the groups - such as public employee unions - that would be most opposed to any deep spending cuts, especially if it meant a permanent reset. They will want temporary cuts at most, hoping that an eventual uptick in the economy would close the income-outgo gap. But unless the spending cuts are credible, it will be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to persuade voters to raise taxes..."
Talking points and political rhetoric flow freely in the education circle. As PUSD prepares the school board to approve a parcel tax election, how many carrots and sticks will be used at the local level?

Or, just maybe, PUSD might explore the complete range of serious fiscal solutions, "permanent resets" and other options to gain credibility with the voters.