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.