Monday, April 16, 2012

How to pay back schools? Depends on how you ask

Two area lawmakers launched surveys recently about the repayment of school funding that was delayed to help an immediate problem with the state budget.
If you look closely, you can see the results depend largely on how the question was asked ...and who did the asking.
GOP Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen's results? "A 62-percent majority says our first priority should be to repay shifted K-12 education funds.
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) indicate the best way to begin repaying delayed K-12 education funding is to reduce spending in order to grow the surplus."
DFL Sen. Kathy Sheran's results? Of the respondents to her survey, 51% said "The state should use a phased-in approach that would pay back the shift over the course of four or five years." While 33% said "Follow state law and pay back the shift as soon as the state has enough funds in reserve, which could take 5-10 years." And 5% said "Never pay the shift back. It’s the price schools had to pay to fix the 2011 budget deficit."

Seriously, who doesn't need an ID?

Started out my Monday morning with a call from my occasional conscience tweaker, Mr. D, a rural businessman.
"Jimmy, can you tell me something? What groups actually need IDs?"
His dander was up on the constitutional amendment coming up for a November vote that require a government-issued ID be presented to cast a ballot in elections. My dander was up, too, because I don't like being called Jimmy.
I thought for a moment. "You mean actually have to live without them? I'm not sure."
"Well, you need an ID to cash a check, to collect Social Security, to buy a house..." He went on about military service, getting food stamps, boarding a plane, buying a drink, driving a car, getting a loan.
He surmised that it would be someone who is below the age of 62, homeless, self-employed, used cash and didn't drive a car. "And so the requirement would hardly affect a lot of people."
"What about the Amish," I asked?
"Well, that's another group I suppose."
"And what about those who live off the land, you know, shunning all the conveniences of modern life?"
"Yeah, there are those self-sustainers who probably ride a horse into town."
But even so, his argument went, are we really inconveniencing a large number of people to get an ID - and a free one at that - to vote.
"Look at the problems now. You have students who, if they wanted to, can vote twice - once where they're going to school and again at their hometown or even from another state because no one is checking. Or nursing home residents who are there temporarily." And, he went on, "I just never liked the idea that anyone could walk in and have a buddy vouch for him" as being a resident of the precinct.
Well, actually he can vouch for up to 15 people and if it's a residential home, one person can vouch for an unlimited number of residents staying there.
"You're making my case for me," he said.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," I offered. "I'll post this column and see if there are any other groups of people who would be left out if IDs were required and didn't already have them."
And there we have it. So, any suggestions?