Monday, October 03, 2005

Our "Special Masters" Have Spoken. They Want More Money.

Report on schools is out, by Mark Moore (click "Comments" below).

12 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

From the Arkinsas Times site:

We don't have a link to the full opinion yet. But here are some excerpts:

"From the largely uncontradicted evidence presented by the movants, we must conclude that the state has not lived up to the promise made by the 84th General Assembly Regular and Extraordinary Sessions of 2003 to make education the state’s first priority. Without exception, the school superintendents who testified before us were of the opinion that regression in state-aid funding, costly unfunded new education mandates, and the General Assembly’s failure to take inflation sufficiently into account had adversely affected their efforts to provide and "adequate" education to their students."

And also:

"Rather than seeking to address the needs of the schools and the effort to achieve equal opportunities for all students across the state to obtain an adequate education, as could have been expected in view of the legislative priority expressed by the 84th General Assembly, the discussions were about how to spend available funds. "

And also:

"It is apparent that an atmosphere of satisfaction prevailed among state officials. They seemed satisfied that the supreme court had approved what they had done in 2003 and that they could simply rest upon the laurel bestowed by thecourt when it released its mandate after our initial report."

That same sense of satisfaction seems to be present with respect to the issue of school-district consolidation. "

And also:

"The funds appropriated for facilities repair, renovation, and construction during this biennium ($120,000,000) do not come close to addressing the state’s public-school facilities needs. This is true even recognizing the requirement that local districts must afford part or all of the expense. The state contends that before more money can be appropriated, it must first have a “master plan” which will not be operational until at least the 2007 or 2009 session. The state has already spent too much time “getting ready to get ready” as far as facilities are concerned."

and also

"We note in closing our conclusion that there is at least $107,000,000 of general revenue funds from the fiscal year 2004-2005 that have not been allocated by the 85th General Assembly that could be spent to remedy some of the problems
discussed here if they were appropriated and allocated in a special session. In addition, Mr. Weiss alluded to an estimated surplus of $49,000,000 in the Educational Adequacy Fund. He reported a current conservative forecast of a surplus of $180,000,000 in the present biennium. If those predictions hold true, and if the General Assembly lives up to its stated obligation to fund education first, the needs of Arkansas’s children may well be served."

Finally ...

"We recognize how difficult it may be to avoid the tendency to slip back onto the track of “business as usual.” We have no doubt, however, that the means are present for the governor and the members of the 85th General Assembly and their successors to regain the high ground and eventually to erase the stain of unconstitutionality from Arkansas’s public schools."

********************************
It sounds like our judicial rulers are going to tell the ledge to fetch another stick like the good lap dogs they have been. The stick in this case is your wallet.

The legislature should never have kowtowed to them in the first place. It was a terrible precedent.
*******************************

2:34 PM, October 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are wrong, it does not have to be a new tax increase. If they just take a portion of the Pork Barrell Fund and devote it to education, we won't have any new taxes.

6:27 PM, October 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh great, so the answer is to take what is "one time surplus" and make it a permanent part of the budget so that we will have to spend that amount next year and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the....

Heck, I would have preferred a tax cut. The Arkansas Republican legislators might be ineffective (because they are only about 25% of the seats) but they weren't stupid. They knew there would be no way to actually stop the Democrats from spending it, so they did the next best thing... they put it in a portion of the budget that would not force them to spend that same amount every year for now and forever.

To say that there won't be a tax is a lie. Don't believe it. If that money goes into the budget, then sooner of later it will definitely mean a tax, and a very big one to boot.

Sure the legislature left the state with an empty wallet by blowing its wad of cash on pork, but at least they didn't set up an automatic charge to our credit card every year by growing the budget.

Now the Supreme Court is gonna try to do that anyway.

7:02 PM, October 03, 2005  
Anonymous markm said...

Actually, most of the players ARE going to put a billion or so on our credit card if they have their way. Did you catch the thread on the bond issue a few posts down?

The election to see if they can indebt us for colleges and highways is set for December 13th. I suspect that is because they only want a select group to show up at the polls, so they have it 12 days before Christmas. That select group is connected folks that have their hands out, and will benefit from blowing the next 25 years of highway and higher education money in the next three or four years.

It will tie the hands of future administrations and saddle the people of Arkansas with bond fees and interest payments.

8:58 PM, October 03, 2005  
Blogger AR1836 said...

Very troubling developments for the future, but do we not need better infrastructure and better institutes of higher learning to accomodate future growth? Also, AR schools are in a shambles and consolidation was one answer to at least shave off the heavy administrative costs of having 7+ school districts in one county. But, more debt, with all the debt registering in DC could be a dumb idea. Most business people I know in NW AR favor the bond issue. The school matter is also seen as a growth and economic issue. But with HWH school district as a poster boy for greed and self-righteous behavior, maybe more than money SHOULD be the issue here(not to compliment Asa(!)--the last thing I'd want to do): Accountability should be the next serious school issue to be undertaken, along with the court masters directives. How do we build infrastructure without taking on debt or raising taxes? Raising taxes in the economic environment for most of AR could be harmful. Raising debt might bite us in the ass later. These borrow-and-spend conservatives sure have caused a problem in America. Kinda hard to attack the tax-and-spend crew with the vehemence of Reagan, before he raised the deficit to unheard of plateaus. These issues deserve extensive, productive debate. I don't have an answer in my own mind and am looking for other folks ideas to reach an informed opinion. I don't believe "the Brotherhood" had any constructive answers last session and Mike(Huckabee or Beebe) didn't seem to either and the GOP stabbed Bisbee in the back over pro-tem position. Can't wait for the first Gubernatorial debates. It's time all political viewpoints got a fair hearing with the future of AR at stake and I'd like to see debates on issues without the stifling rules designed to take the heat off both candidates, like the phony presidential debates. But who would watch or give a damn? Sad.

10:44 AM, October 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please watch your language. You are well spoken and don't need that to make a point.

7:59 PM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Toast said...

Ahhhhh, that old myth rears its obnoxious head once again: More money means better schools. Its corollary in the state of Arkansas is that if smaller schools have less money, they must be worse schools; or, when all schools have the same amount of money, they will all provide equal levels of service to their respective students.

These judicial activists can define equality any way they want and proceed to demand that our legislature raise 'revenues' to fund their disasterous experiment in education. Until we have a governor and a legislature that will stand up to them, there's little hope in staving off more historically high tax increases.

8:52 PM, October 04, 2005  
Anonymous Mark M said...

We already have too many colleges in this state. Many of the graduates have to leave the state to find jobs. We have more colleges and graduates than we have those kind of jobs to fill, except maybe in booming Benton County.

As long as this is the case, tying our hands for the next 25 years to give money to liberal college professors now is a bad BAD idea.

I think it is the wrong move for highways too. We did the same thing with federal highway money. We borrowed 25 years worth and spent it at once. Sure it feels good now because we just ended the spending spree. But what happens ten years down the road? How about 15 years? What if there is disasterous repairs needed in 20 years? The money is already spent!

We are already in a bind over this. The state needs 2.7 billion as its share to get I-49 done. Too bad we don't have it!

9:00 PM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger Arkansas Pachyderm said...

Here is the one of the more disturbing things to think about. If the Ledge is called back for a special session, who will be the legislative 'leaders' that will be asked to 'fix' the problem again?

Malone
Mahony
Broadway
Bisbee

The same ones who led the 'reform' efforts for the last 2.5 years...the same ones that gave such weak testimony before the masters...the ones that killed real reform like the virtual charter school.

And to ar1836's point about Bisbee getting stabbed in the back over the pro-tem race, why don't you ask some current and former GOP legislators to see the scars on their backs from actions by Sen. Bisbee.

2:00 PM, October 05, 2005  
Blogger Arkansas Pachyderm said...

Here is the one of the more disturbing things to think about. If the Ledge is called back for a special session, who will be the legislative 'leaders' that will be asked to 'fix' the problem again?

Malone
Mahony
Broadway
Bisbee

The same ones who led the 'reform' efforts for the last 2.5 years...the same ones that gave such weak testimony before the masters...the ones that killed real reform like the virtual charter school.

And to ar1836's point about Bisbee getting stabbed in the back over the pro-tem race, why don't you ask some current and former GOP legislators to see the scars on their backs from actions by Sen. Bisbee.

2:00 PM, October 05, 2005  
Anonymous Harvey Edwards said...

I JUST HAVE TO SAY THERE IS NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT TO MAKE CHANGES BY RUNNING FOR sTATE rEPRESENTATIVES ON THE cONSTITUTION pARTY TICKET. WE CAN CHANGE NOTHING BY BEING ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACKS.

3:30 PM, October 05, 2005  
Blogger Johnjon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:58 AM, October 17, 2005  

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