Greg Forney: Where’s the other side?
October 27, 2010
I have been surprised that your reporting on the tax relief ballot issues continues without balanced input from its proponents. Really? You can't find anyone to represent these ideas? I should not be the one to remind a journalist about fair and balanced reporting, but you guys aren't even going through the motions.
Well, I can understand that it is easier, and there is no shortage of government employees, businesses that contract with the government, and bankers that lend to the government that not only will offer interviews on why Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101 should be defeated, but are also paying for all those full-page ads in your paper.
So maybe I'm not so surprised after all. I am, however, more than a little disappointed that the media outlets are airing political messages without any regard to truthfulness or context, and it is becoming intolerable.
For example, you blindly repeat a comment by a local resident, Russ Garrity, that tax relief will cost the South Routt School District 43.6 percent of its annual revenue. Rubbish. The cost is zero because full state aid as replacement is guaranteed by Amendment 60 (see the text and ballot title), by Amendment 23 of 2000, and by the School Finance Act of the 1980s. This is verified by the state voter guide. Why do you print such a bald-faced falsehood? To scare children, parents and teachers into a panic and a vote against tax relief for our families? State replacement costs only 0.65 percent of annual state spending and is spread out throughout 10 years, starting in 2012 (you didn't mention that, either). It covers much less than half of school taxes because it does not apply to school debt, still repaid by local taxes.
It is simple really, and anyone that reads these initiatives will understand. We are frugal with our own money, but putting our politicians and even unelected boards in a position where they are spending "other people's money" requires safeguards. It is just common sense. While it may be expedient to have the bookkeeper sign the checks for your company, it is just not prudent.
To see just how easy it is to spend "other people's money," we need only remember the hundreds of thousands of dollars that left town with former school superintendent Donna Howell, complements of a former Steamboat Springs School Board. This is too easy really; there are so many egregious spending abuses in government today. Too many states (and the federal government) already are totally upside down financially. It's scary, and many folks will now say "enough."
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A tip for the future, you can get the proponent's side by contacting the people that pay the taxes that in turn fund the salaries of the people that in turn fund the ads to keep the taxes coming — and growing.