...how a supposedly thought out editorial can miss the point so completely. It can only be intentional. We refer to "3 reasons not to oppose the mayor’s preschool plan" appearing in this morning's Sunday paper.
Reason #1 simply takes a broad swipe at any opposition which might be construed as having a political bias. We’re told that this proposal would be a "winning talking point for an incumbent" mayor if he chooses to run, and we’re to assume that this one is purely coincidental.
Reason #2 tells us to avoid short term thinking to put off long term "investments" even though the city "...is undeniably strapped for cash...The necessity of striking a good balance between setting competitive tax rates and paying for basic amenities is very real...." We believe the applicable word is priorities - an asset in very short supply concerning city fiscal policies. (Our emphasis.)
Reason #3 recalls the constitutional principle that government has always taken a responsibility for financial participation in the education of children.
On the first point, let’s just say that importance of political reality is no stranger to this city. Politically speaking, a questioning on any aspect of spending for education will bring accusations of wanting to cheat, or at least write off, the children. We find it interesting that linking education and public safety is considered good political strategy. An indication that political considerations are actually front and center is betrayed by finding, in the editorial consuming three quarters of one page and supporting a public safety and education program, the words "more police officers" occur exactly once.
The second point brings in the term "investment" to cover municipal spending. Quite frankly, considering the last three or four decades of "investment" of public funds in a variety of projects, and the fiscal return for the city budget, we’d think twice about using that word again. An investment is supposed to give a positive return on the money, not a negative one.
Point #3 does remind us of the constitutional provision of aid to education. We know of no one who questions that, but we are also reminded of children's early education needs, economic development and the need for a more literate workforce. No mention is made of a connection between the mayor's office and the performance of the educational system.
The missing point continues to be, as it has been for decades in Indianapolis, the source of funding for any legitimate governmental function. And as usual, the only suggestion available from proponents is an increase in taxes. There is no hint of any need for, or even advisability of, a comprehensive audit of current fiscal policies.
Looking back at the fiscal history of the city for the last quarter century, it is quite clear that public safety and "other basic amenities" will get a short attention span when any new revenues are doled out.
Note to the members of the paper’s editorial board. You give us three reasons NOT to support this program. How about giving us some good reasons why increased taxes and additional revenues are the only option while the city has provided, and continues to subsidize, about a billion dollars worth of real property for the benefit of professional sports franchises. Are you completely satisfied that every current expenditure should be continued?
Please find some way in your own minds to see that opposition to increasing current tax levies is not equivalent to opposition to the proposed concept. Try to show your readers that you understand their frustration with municipal fiscal policies which, with billions of dollars of "investment" in real estate development and sports subsidy, have left the municipal till short of funds for some of the most important basic functions, to say nothing of "amenities."
The present situation seems to us to be very similar to one where an individual claims inability to buy school books for his children because his country club membership costs too much.
We urge you to make a real effort to get back to your own words and "strike a good balance" between appropriate raising of revenues and the disbursal thereof.