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Biting their thumbs and capping revenue

May 18, 2015

One of my favorite dialogues from Shakespeare comes in the first scene of Romeo and Juliet (SPOILER: after that, it’s all downhill).


Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them;
which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.



Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?


I do bite my thumb, sir.


Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?


[Aside to GREGORY] Is the law of our side, if I say




No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I
bite my thumb, sir.

Today’s thumb-biting comes in the form of House Bill 2244, which appeared through spontaneous generation in the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. With no budget agreement in sight (which could mean it exists Charlie Pride-style – Behind Closed Doors), today we began to see several bills emerge that were on no one’s radar last week. This bill in particular has great potential to both hurt education and also twist the knife in the backs of all of us who support public schools. Since there’s no record of this bill coming through the regular legislative process, we are left to imagine.

Maybe one day last week, our legislative leaders were sitting around trying to figure out how to plug the hole in the state budget. They looked at all available revenue sources and noticed that one in particular – the motor vehicle tax – was actually growing. They decided to cap the revenue source at current levels and divert the remaining money in future years to the general fund. Whatever this tax produces for education funding in the current fiscal year is the maximum it will ever produce. Never mind that enrollment and expenses are rising. This fund could yield as much as $20 million next year above the cap and start to chip away at the $611 million deficit in the budget that they created.

You Serious Clark

In other words, they can’t fund education because of the budget hole, so they’re going to divert money away from education to try to very partially fill the hole. In case you’re wondering, HB 2244 passed through A & B on a 13-4 vote after minutes of debate. With that kind of transparency and consideration, I just have to ask why we keep electing these people.

The Legislature has been in session more than 100 days. Is this really the best they can do? What other surprises await us this week? Will they bite their thumb again, or show us an altogether different digit?

This is a time when your voice matters. Call your representative and senator. Call someone else’s too. If you have time, call them all. Tell them you’ve had enough of the nonsense. They’re either serious about funding public education or they’re not. It’s time to quit pretending.

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