Another hamstring for local government

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GOP ballot measure proposal about increasing control by state, partisans

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Does anyone think a state lawmaker knows more about running a school district than a superintendent or school board members? Neither do we. That’s why we find no good in the so-called ban of “taxpayer-funded lobbying” proposal in the Republican ballot measures during this primary election.

Proposition 3 on the GOP primary ballot states “Texas should ban the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, which allows your tax dollars to be spent on lobbyists who work against the taxpayer.” That redundantly worded proposition glosses over what local governments do and it gives no mention of what they can’t do — lobby for political outcomes.

Just as school boards and many municipal and county governmental positions are mostly volunteer, especially in rural Texas, this “ban” would mean local governments could not stick up for themselves in the law-making arena.

Locally, governmental employees can’t advocate for or against local issues, even if they believe it is in the best interest of the community. A “ban” would mean local governments would have to rely on those same volunteers to lobby their legislators, as they represent their board and work their real jobs, in many cases.

This amounts to yet another bully tactic to try and seize control of local governments. And it would also leave the wellheeled, agenda-driven partisans with little to no opposition.

School districts, cities and counties regularly get knocked for spending too much, yet they deal with increased mandates from the state legislature, as well as increased property values. This would punish the very governments who made our cities and counties good places to live, and our schools good places to entrust the education of our children. These are the governmental entities that are closest to the people, so they are the most responsible for their own decisions.

Some legislators have gotten so cynical about public schools — or now they are becoming known as “government schools,” as though they are 1920s orphanages with poor conditions and zero redeeming qualities. As products and supporters of public schools, we take huge exception to that characterization.

Our schools, our cities and our counties are run by our local governments, and they are the most efficient way to educate our populace, and handle the myriad issues that face municipalities and counties.

Voters had best stop feeling like they have to apologize for public schools and other local governments or legislators with an agenda to promote vouchers are going to gut them. That would be the very worst thing for the State of Texas and it would mean adverse effects for generations.

This Texas Public Schools Week, let’s remember why we support our schools that support all students, as well as our cities and counties, and let’s not hamstring them with unnecessary limits.

Vote no on this silly proposal. – K.E.C.