In order to avoid thinking about the forest.
The Senate Committee on Education held hearings this week on Senate Joint Resolution 27, an effort to start thinking about ways to fund education that would be more efficient than the property tax burden we're currently carrying.
John Smart, writing in the Capital Times, notes:
The purpose of the hearing was to examine Senate Joint Resolution 27, co-sponsored by Assembly Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Verona, Sen. Roger Breske, D-Eland, 14 other senators and 43 other Assembly representatives. All but one of the people testifying supported the resolution.
The resolution calls for the Legislature to recognize that the system we're using to pay for our schools is not fair and equitable and simply does not work -- that it underfunds our schools while throwing too much of the burden on the backs of property taxpayers, who are understandably rebelling. The resolution refers to a number of new funding formulas that all deserve consideration, and it sets a deadline for the Legislature to examine these, and any others, and pass a new compromise plan for school funding by July 1, 2009.
Several members of the committee, notably Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, insisted on attempting to debate the merits of one or another of the plans, asking how much they would cost and where the money was going to come from. They had to be reminded repeatedly that this resolution only sets a deadline and doesn't endorse any specific plan.
I'm not surprised that Glenn wanted to debate the merits of plans that don't exist yet and which weren't included in the resolution. When you don't want to think about a serious problem -- especially when you're in the political minority -- you pick away at the edges, like sparrows picking around under a bird feeder. Arguing about irrelevant details, while the main issue -- finding a better way to fund education -- gets pushed out of sight, is an often-used and well understood strategy to make sure those main issues are never dealt with.
Based on Glenn's past performance, it's pretty clear he's opposed to funding education effectively, and this still mystifies me. I keep imagining that Glenn is, at least, ideologically driven to be efficient, like anyone suffering from business-paradigm paralysis. -- but he isn't.
For all his puffery about cutting taxes, Glenn has never offered us a more efficient way to address the things we actually need to spend money on. What's conservative about cutting taxes while leaving unfairness and inefficiency in place? You need to address both ends of the spreadsheet.
Simply saying "no" to everything is not the same thing as creating a better Wisconsin.