March 23, 2009

Here's a Thought for Mr. Caruolo: Democratic Dispute Resolution

Justin Katz

The infamous former RI House Majority Leader George Caruolo, who acquired that adjective when he put his name on a bill that permitted school departments to file suit against their towns for more money, argues that his solution is better than the one that it replaced. Rather than sending funding disputes to the courts, as is now done, the law sent them to Dept. of Ed. bureaucrats.

In making his case, though, Caruolo presents an illustration of the manner in which a skewed first principle prevents the appropriate resolution of issues:

What I don't see are any serious suggestions of where these disputes should be decided. Back to the commissioner or to a governor's panel and we will see the old games again. While a fiscally conservative Republican governor might make decisions that Mr. Jones can agree with, what happens when a pro-union free spender takes office? There is room for abuse when the power to decide these questions is concentrated in any interested bureaucracy.

If I might hazard a suggestion: How about we permit voters to decide such matters by placing the taxing and spending authority with the same body? Either give the towns final say over school department budgets or give the school departments the power to set their own tax rates. If the schools are detrimentally underfunded, the people can elect representatives to increase the flow of money; if the schools become tax sponges, then the people can boot the folks with the budgetary mops.

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I've often said that the way the system is now, with the SC doing the spending and the TC doing the taxing is like going shopping with someone else's credit card. It's fun and if someone comes after you for the money, you just sue the credit card owner for it.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Justin has the two correct alternatives. Can the SC or let the SC chair put his/her name on the bill for the school department.

Posted by: Patrick at March 23, 2009 2:53 PM

What he said.

Posted by: Monique at March 23, 2009 9:31 PM
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