June 8, 2007

It's Official: City and Town School Departments Will Be Flat-Funded

Carroll Andrew Morse

From Andrea Panciera of the Projo's 7-to-7 newsblog...

The head of the House Finance Committee early this afternoon revealed some of the panel's proposals to deal with the state's budget crunch.

Among them are...

"Level funding" the total amount of education aid to cities and towns, which means eliminating the 3 percent education-aid increase across the board that [Governor] Carcieri's budget had called for.

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This is no shock. Raise the class sizes 25% and layoff 25% of the teachers. Case closed.

Posted by: Mike at June 8, 2007 7:31 PM

Oh boy. So much for the new law curbing property tax hikes.

Posted by: SusanD at June 8, 2007 10:21 PM

You know that the NEA-RI is running radio ads asking for the repeal of S. 3050 (the bill that caps property tax hikes). They don't appreciate the suffering of the average Rhode Island taxpayer, only themselves.

It reminds me of a quote from John D. Rockerfeller. He was once asked by a reporter (being the richest man in the world at the time) "How much money is enough?" His reply was "Just a little bit more."

Posted by: Will at June 9, 2007 1:15 AM

We're - hopefully - learning a valuable lesson. Overly taxing your base is dumb.

It looks like the General Assembly is wising up to that, somewhat...but the rest of the state's 'advocates' continue to believe that the coffers of RI are limitless.

Posted by: don roach at June 9, 2007 6:26 AM

"You know that the NEA-RI is running radio ads asking for the repeal of S. 3050 (the bill that caps property tax hikes)."

Yeah, it's pretty amazing. Please raise taxes on yourself (even though they're already high) so we can get even better salaries and benefits.

"They don't appreciate the suffering of the average Rhode Island taxpayer, only themselves."

I'm not sure how much they suffer, Will.

One of the most noble, admirable things you can be is a good teacher. What they do is so important and can have such an impact.

Yet that is obfuscated by their agreement to be represented by an industrial union, which rejects talent and merit out of hand by placing mediocre and bad teachers in the same category as good ones, which places the education of our children a distant second to the aggregation of power and union dues and which espouses naked, unwarranted greed, as in that radio ad.

None of this reflects the goals, character, ethics or philosophy of a good teacher. They do themselves a serious disservice by allowing themselves to be thusly represented.

Posted by: SusanD at June 9, 2007 8:07 AM

The NEA radio ads are just about the most pathetic thing I've ever heard. Repeal 3050 my ass, plugging the budget gap with tobacco money won't even get these mental midgets through the next election cycle. We will be back here same time next year with an even bigger deficit, the time for structural change is NOW. The baseline for a discussion on the future of funding our public schools MUST be the immediate end of defined benefit pensions.

Posted by: jd at June 9, 2007 10:31 AM

This is no shock. Raise the class sizes 25% and layoff 25% of the teachers. Case closed.

You're not getting the point. Coming up with plans that involve spending the same amount of money while reducing the quality of education doens't improve the current situation for anyone, taxpayer, teacher or student.


I agree that the radio ads leave much to be desired in terms of intellectual honesty. The idea that the state is not paying it's fair share, as if the money it spends isn't taken from the regular taxpaying citizens who pay the property tax is propaganda at its worst.

I also think you've hit on the key that fiscal conservatives have to become more aggressive in arguing -- changing demographics have made defined benefit pension plans (including social security) unsustainable. There's stuff that works in a world where every couple has 5 kids that doesn't work where they have only 2.

It reminds me of a quote I heard, but can't remeber the source. Republicans want to gome home to the world like it was in the 1950's (stop booing me, it's not my quote). Democrats would like to go to work there.

Posted by: Andrew at June 9, 2007 5:28 PM

"Coming up with plans that involve spending the same amount of money while reducing the quality of education doens't improve the current situation for anyone, taxpayer, teacher or student. "

Actually, Andrew, Mike may have a point. In South Kingstown, for example, the teacher to student ratio is nine to one; the staff to student ratio is six to one. The cost per child is over $15,000. Yet in no way do results match that staffing level and per pupil expenditure.

What exactly are we spending all this money on?

Posted by: SusanD at June 9, 2007 9:53 PM


Their ad is not intellectually dishonest, it is grossly inaccurate and deceitful. if they had good taste, they'd pull it. But of course, they're hoping that the dumbed-down electorate doesn't know what's in S. 3050, but will ask their reps to repeal it because they said so.

The real funny thing about the NEA-RI ads is the intro ... I mean, it's actually comical (though I'm certain, not intentionally). I've pasted a transcript of their radio ad below, and have added some "highlights" and [brackets] myself for extra emphasis:

(Pomp and Circumstance)

June is an interesting month in Rhode Island [yes, it's when the legislature tries to pass all its worst bills in the dead of night].

Every June, we all celebrate [pretend] our excellent public schools [disfunctional edukashun factories .. and who is this "WE"? -- must be the charter and parochial schools], as well-prepared students [barely literate] graduate [with a worthless scrap of paper, who will soon be in need of remedial education in order to get into a state college] with high hopes for the future [most likely outside of Rhode Island].

(Switch music)

But every June, our Governor and our General Assembly make decisions that impact our children.

Last June, a law called Senate 3050 was passed. It was intended to limit local property taxes and provide more state support for our public schools.

But, after the November elections, we found out about the huge state budget deficit [so they really didn't see this coming?] and discovered the state would not be able to pay its fair share [its fair share TO US].

Instead, the impact of Senate 3050 has been devastating for our public schools [yeah, we've actually had to count the money before we spent it!]. Needed programs that will help our students succeed are being cut [but not our pay raises or platinum health benefits], and next year could be even worse.

(No music)

We need a fair funding formula [more of your money, because we don't think you pay enough in taxes] for public education. We need to rely less on property taxes to support our schools [we can get the money from the tooth fairy, right?]. But until that happens [when monkeys fly out of our butts], please ask your elected officials to repeal Senate 3050.

(Return to Pomp and Circumstance)

We can’t let the music [payments to us] stop for our children [our meal-tickets].

So pathetic, it's beyond words. Sickos.

Posted by: Will at June 10, 2007 1:06 AM

It all rolls downwards.
Carcieri can play the hero by cutting 1,000 jobs, but he doesn't bother to tell us what he'll be cutting.
The legislature wants to prove how fiscally tough it is by level funding cities and towns so THEY don't have to get their hands dirty.
While the governor and legislature get to play cock of the walk with how they're gonna balance the budget, the cities and towns get left holding the bloody bag.

Posted by: Rhody at June 10, 2007 2:05 AM

Very good, Will.

Posted by: SusanD at June 10, 2007 9:23 AM

"the cities and towns get left holding the bloody bag."

Sorry, but I wouldn't be so quick to let the cities walk on this.. Most of the cities have been run just as poorly as the state. Look at the egregious contracts given to municipal unions, look at the shitty schools systems in Providence,Woonsocket and Central Falls.
Look at the limp wristed Warwick city council pissing away potential health care administration savings because the unions still hold all of their testicles (including Helen Taylor's) in a lock box. Sorry about the rant, but local governments don't get a pass from me..

Posted by: jd at June 10, 2007 10:18 AM


You beat me to the punch. Any notion that cities and town have been put upon is ridiculous. Cities and towns have been giving away the store through bad contracts for many years. The party is over.


You seem to be a union guy and if so let me ask you this. How do you reconcile the unholy alliance between labor leaders and poverty pimps? Both sides are fighting over the same shrinking pie yet Bobby Walsh and Georgie Nee are kissin cousins with Katie Brewster and Lizzie Burke Bryant. Exactly how are union rank and file served by this unholy alliance?
They're (you?) not!
So why do rank and file bend over in Pavlovian lockstep and take it up the rectum from their own so called leaders?
This proposed budget by House Finance is a huge win for the poverty pimps and a huge loss for unions.
You blaming the governor is so very union (aka non thinking) but completely misplaced.
Unions are being sold out by their own.

Posted by: Tim at June 10, 2007 11:50 AM

Here's an idea to save some money ----

It only takes 22 credits to graduate High School, 9.75 credits can be electives. Graduating in 3 years is not difficult (It would be quite easy if we cut some electives).

It costs us $10,000-$13,000 per year for a HS student. It costs about $5000 for 2 years at CCRI. Any student that graduates in 3 years gets 2 years free at CCRI. It saves us $8000 per student and provides for many an opportunity that they might never have.

I wonder if this could be implemented at a district level rather than fighting it out at the state house.

Posted by: Bill Felkner at June 11, 2007 12:33 AM
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