Voters will face funding choices 
on November’s ballot

PHOTO BY CT-Sent as WAGNER MUG 11-27.



I’m hearing of more choices voters might see on the November ballot for funding. It’s difficult to approach the topic at these early stages of which might be acceptable, all involve some pain — it’s like trying to decide which finger you want to lose in an industrial accident or picking a Billy Joel song to listen to while tied to a chair.

I’ve heard ideas about school funding, public safety and a recreation center.

Whenever I hear spending being discussed the word I find to be a micro-aggression is “investment.”

The idea is that couching expenditure this way leads the voter to believe they will receive some benefit that will exceed their investment.

Actually, lots of people make investments and never get their money back.

On the educational front it used to be that you could see some tangible results from spending money on educating students, particularly K-12.

Spending money on many college degrees has been a losing proposition for some time. The percentage of students graduating with baccalaureate degrees that can justify the expenditure on obtaining them through a commensurate increase in salary has become less and less congruent.

Compare the median wage of individuals graduating with degrees in the majority of the social sciences versus someone who spends some time at a technical school becoming an expert in HVAC installation or plumbing and heating. Then, consider the four/six year cost of a degree followed by some calculation of the opportunity cost to be out of the workforce for that time.

Colleges also offer increasing studies unlikely to enhance someone’s earning potential. For instance, the last three years we’ve seen a rise in courses that open the door to amazing increases in employment capacity such as, “The Problem with Whiteness,” which, when I first saw it offered at the University of Wisconsin – Madison I thought it was a great idea to come up with solutions for all that snow in Wisconsin but I discovered that’s not what it was about.

At least an expenditure on college still remains a choice. K-12 education falls into the pay the tax or have your house sold at auction category, so the last shot at free will is voting on the bond issue or tax increase.

So far, I haven’t seen anything like an idea that would indicate new money would result in better education.

I might vote for a bond or tax increase if it was directly tied to the funding of about five new charter schools to give parents a choice and competition between institutions for students.

Since that is wildly unlikely to happen I move to the topic of public safety and the need to provide increased funding for the District Attorney and Sheriff, particularly in the area of detention. We should avoid a repeat situation I experienced here in prior years of having a federal court determine your jail policy and expenditure based on an overcrowding lawsuit.

I’m still unsure how a proposition for dedicated funding for county law enforcement will be presented but I know it has to be directly tied to public safety objectives. Also, new ideas about law-enforcement and corrections utilization have to be offered in any request for funding.

Lastly, I’m about 85 percent sure we’ll see a ballot issue regarding a recreation center. The reason I think this is that everything I’ve seen from the city of Grand Junction indicates that it is practically impossible to do something with existing funds and no one can explain why.

It remains a mystery that a company like Planet Fitness can retrofit an existing structure at what seems like a reasonable monthly cost and be ready to go.

This is not the way things are done in our neck of the woods. A plan will be set forth, imagine Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles, only fancier. The cost is then so exorbitant it will be hard even for individuals who want the project to back the expenditure.

I support the recreation center idea and believe we have large, empty, existing structures in areas that could benefit from the service, which could be repurposed.

Something to think about as ideas are floated but remember, if someone tries to show you a PowerPoint presentation, it will suck the life force from audiences trapped in a room with it.

Heed my warning.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


COMMENTS

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Mr. Wagner suffers from the belief that “education” should consist only of knowledge that can be turned into “ready cash”; i.e. learning a skill.  So, we should just shut down our colleges and universities and send everyone to technical school such that they can repair things.  Perhaps that is why he attended a college or university, so that he could do something and “earn lots of money”.  Well, he might want to start all over again, but this time actually become educated to do something beyond acquiring a “skill set”, which all too many do.

Some of us attended a college and university, in the belief that we would cure our ignorance.  The most important lesson we learned is that we were more ignorant than we could possibly have imagined.  There were subjects that we did not only not understand, but didn’t even know existed (never mind recognize their importance and significance to humanity - if not to ourselves personally).

Besides learning the “how to” Mr. Wagner, we also learned to raise that little question “Why?”. That brought up something very interesting.  It was:  “Yes, I know how to do it, but should I do it even if I can?”  In “Wagner world”, where many have chosen to reside, that question never really gets asked.  It is merely assumed that the answer is “yes”, and especially when it makes them some money - which is the only thing most really care about;  i.e. After all, what else matters?).

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