There is a lot of talk this election season about the Kernan-Shepard report. Every forum and debate I have attended this fall, and every candidate questionnaire I have received (except for the single issue types) have included some reference to some portion of the report.
Most of the voters I have heard from have rejected the part of the report that calls for eliminating elected positions and replacing them with appointed positions. Neither do I find much support for a state mandate calling for the consolidation of school districts to insure at least 2000 students per district. It seems most people in the area believe, correctly I think, that consolidation of schools should remain a local matter. The call for eliminating township government and transferring the duties to the counties receives mixed reviews, with the most vocal opposition coming from township officials.
There is a lot of language in the report about transferring duties from the county to the state, shuffling election cycles, and lifting restrictions on the purchasing ability of local governments and schools that should never have been imposed in the first place.
My opponent in the District 54 House of Representatives race recently added his thoughts on reforming state government, including combining the House and Senate, eliminating state legislative districts, and giving the governor more control over spending.
I’m sure a lot of our legislators have genuine concerns about the proposed consolidation of library services, and maybe some are truly concerned about the number of campaign signs that will no longer be needed if some of the new plans are adopted. But as I read through most of the proposals, the term “red herring” comes to mind. At one time a red herring was used to confuse hunting dogs by masking the scent they were tracking. Today it is often used to divert peoples’ attention from the real issues.
The real issue is that government spends too much money, and it borrows and mortgages our children’s and grandchildren’s futures to pay for programs and promises that they have no say in. Hiring assessors instead of electing them won’t solve the problem, anymore than sending our tax dollars to Indianapolis so they can take their cut and send it back to us will.
The real issue is that government loves property taxes. It is a tax that the government can collect in the worst of times. And if you can’t come up with the funds to pay them in the worst of times, the government gets to take your home. Most officials claim they need that constant, reliable funding source to make their jobs easier.
Governments in the past have laid claim to peoples children. We wouldn’t stand still for that today. We shouldn’t stand still when they lay claim to our property.
We can do away with property taxes. We can do it by eliminating non-essential spending, distributing our sales taxes to legitimate government services, and making sure the user fees we pay, (such as gas and road use taxes) are truly spent on their intended purpose.
There are a lot of things that need to be fixed in state and local government. Finding a fairer and more equitable way to fund a smaller version of that government is a good place to start.
Labels: Kernan Shepard, Red Herring