Money management, not money, is the issue
By J. Dyer
A PTA group sponsored a Ramona school board candidate meeting on Oct. 18. Proposition R and the other school tax increases — propositions 30 and 38, were discussed. I attended to ask three questions:
1. Why hasn’t maintenance to Ramona schools been done as needed over the years so this alleged “maintenance crisis” could have been avoided?
2. Why can’t Ramona schools’ management set priorities, allocate their budget to their highest priorities, and stop spending money when their money runs out?
3. Who is responsible for the mismanagement of the Ramona schools’ budget?
The questions were simple and clear. The answers were complicated and murky. How the larger state bureaucracy allocates money was mentioned as a culprit. Matching funds was thrown in as if this state tactic to coax more money from us somehow makes higher taxes easier for us to accept. Fingerpointing to past administrations’ fiscal deficiencies is usually implied.
Remember how the lottery was supposed to fix all the public schools’ fiscal problems? That was a lie. Since then, year after year we have been told that the latest critically needed tax increase would be the problem solver. This has not been true. It has never been true because money is not the issue. Money management is the issue. And until the money management issue is clearly addressed and permanently fixed, this recurring demand for more of your money will continue.
I’m sure you have noticed that when the government bureaucrats want to raise your taxes, they threaten you with distasteful consequences if you don’t give them more of your money. They threaten closing libraries, giving you less police or fire protection, or providing you with less quality education. But these are not the only options for these bureaucrats; they are just the ones that work best on you. Kind of resembles extortion, doesn’t it?
The bureaucrat (as opposed to a public servant) is not a problem solver—he is a problem avoider. When the bureaucrat is faced with a passed down problem, he does the same thing his predecessors have done—he attempts to pass it along. Fixing problems is messy and can have adverse career consequences in a system filled with problem avoiders.
Higher taxes on you is always more appealing than cutting their spending. Cutting spending causes pain within the bureaucracy. Higher taxes cause pain outside the bureaucracy. Bureaucrats serve themselves and their bureaucracy more than they are serving you. Bureaucrats hope things will hold together through one more tax increase—or until they retire.
On a website, one of the candidates said that he supports Proposition R because, “It’s time to pay the piper” for the bad decisions of the past. To all the candidates and school bureaucrats, I’m tired of “paying the piper” for an inefficient bureaucracy that refuses to work within its budget. I am tired of the guilt manipulators using “it’s all about the children” to cover up fiscal mismanagement.
Murky answers to simple questions and finger pointing to escape blame does not clarify issues or solve problems. Just work within your budget like we all have to do. More money given to poor money managers makes the problem harder to deal with down the road.
We’ve been heading down that road far too long. It is time to turn around and move in another direction.
The bureaucracy does not have a money problem; it has a money management problem. Don’t give them more of what they have proven they cannot manage properly. Please, vote No on R, 30, and 38.
J. Dyer is a Ramona resident.
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