Sunday, February 20, 2011

some thoughts

on balancing a state budget:

* Get real about school consolidation. In Waupaca County alone, Manawa, Weyauwega-Fremont and Waupaca operate 3 separate school districts. They're less then 20 miles apart from one another. The cost savings in special education, counselors & other staff, administration, building operations and curriculum development would probably outweigh transportation cost increases. One study of Wisconsin schools suggested we have 40 more school districts than necessary.

* Ask parents to pay a little more for their kids' education. Drivers need to pay registration fees for vehicles when using publicly funded roads. Patrons of public libraries pay to replace their lost or damaged items at publicly funded libraries. Why not require parents to ante up when their children use the schools? Or pay up when their kids abuse their privilege of going to school? The whole public funds education, but those people using it could pay a user fee of sorts. Perhaps if parents had some skin in the game, schools wouldn't have to work quite so hard to educate those children.

* Increase the student allotment for the virtual school. There's a waiting list of over 1,000 kids wanting to get educated online. It costs less than half of a conventional education to allow those kids into the virtual schools. What's the beef with giving people what they want in this case?

* Drop the drop-out age. It used to be 16, and kids would figure out after six months working at their local convenience store for minimum wage that perhaps a high school diploma would be a useful thing to possess. As a former high school teacher, I saw a lot of resources thrown at kids who didn't want to be in school. Let them leave, give them grace to return when they're ready to knuckle down and earn that diploma.

* Switch the tax system from an income tax to a Value Added Tax--tax people on their consumption rather than what they earn. I've been reading about this idea and it has great appeal...(Check out what Forbes has to say.)

* Let's get more creative with our sentencing--corrections expenses in Wisconsin have been on the rise for years. Does every convict need a prison sentence? Are there other less expensive and more effective ways to address criminal behavior? This article examines it more closely...

* Raise the damn beer tax already! Seriously, people, it's been taxed the same for nearly 40 years.

* Raise the tipping fees at our landfills.

These ideas are endorsed by Green Girl in Wisconsin. She is not (currently) a politician, an economist or a member of a union. She's just a person living in the Dairy State who tries to think things through before she acts.


  1. Have you seen the Rachel Maddow clip on the Wisconsin "Budget Crisis?" Enlightening to say the least.

    I like your 16-year old dropout idea, but would add we need to bring Vo-Tech back--not everyone is going to college.

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  3. I'm feeling your pain - there have been several interesting articles in the NY Times too about this. The part about who's running things (brothers) and the guy who's off to look for the angry - and missing - Dems (the brothers' dad) kills me. Great use of public funds.

  4. Jenn.. Have you seen what Ed has to say about the WI budget? He is on after Rachel on MSNBC. I think Ed is my hero.

    GG-- You make some interesting points. But I don't want to join districts...

  5. Maybe you should be a politician. Looks like you've got some good ideas - to at least start some more conversations.

  6. Ahhh...budget-balancing. Difficult enough at the state level, eh. The thing I really admired about President Clinton was that he balanced the national budget and eliminated the national you ever remember that happening in any other administration?? Probly due to the fact that he was stress-free from sexual satisfaction, and therefore able to concentrate better on matters at hand.

    * ; )

    & good ideas, Greens! I'd especially go for increasing the "sin" taxes, alcohol and tobacco...

  7. Good for you for thinking things through. These are all good ideas and solid examples of alternative thinking.

    Maybe you SHOULD be a politician. ;)

  8. I've been seriously watching/tracking on-line schooling options. 1 1/2 yrs before we make the big move to middle school ... could be the perfect time.

  9. Very valid ideas. If you got a task force of a bunch of moms together we could probably not only balance the state and federal budgets but end war and other strife on this planet as well.

  10. Interesting ideas. Like the beer tax.

  11. Interesting ideas. Like the beer tax.


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