Sunday, March 13, 2005

Breaking News: Voters Admit to Voter Fraud

In a shocking development, numerous voters in several states across America have admitted that they may have been an unknowing partner in committing voter fraud during their state's gubernatorial elections.

The two states under the microscope for alleged fraud are California and Indiana. The gubernatorial homes of Arnold "The Terminator" Swartzenegger and Mitch "The Blade" Daniels. Our Super Bloggers have discovered what they have in common outside of steroid induced nicknames. They both have determined to solve their respective states' financial problems on the backs of public school children.

Many republican voters, especially those who admit to having empathy for children other than their own, confess that when they were in the voting booths they punched their gubernatorial ticket two times. They confess to voting for Arnold and Mitch for both the first and last times. Some legal experts believe this may fall within the guidelines of voter fraud.

To defend the voters, they have stepped forward to admit it, and they do seem repentful.


At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous read the budget said...

Super -- you're losing me on the math.

The total IN state budget for 05-06 is $21.8 billion of which $6.7 billion comes from the federal government.

The total budget for EDUCATION is $7.1 billion of which $756 million comes from the Feds.

So, Hoosier taxpayers will pay $6.34 billion on EDUCATION in the next budget -- twice the size of any other budget line. This is a 10% --$550,000,000 increase -- from the current year.

EDUCATION is one-third of the State's budget and increasing faster than the total. How is Daniels balancing the budget on the backs of kids?

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Blogger Joe Thomas said...

I can provide a little insight, maybe.

Students are funded on a per pupil basis. In Arizona, we spend just over $5,500 per student, good enough for dead last.

Illinois spends around $11,000 for each of its 2 million students, placing you 11th in the nation.

None of this includes money spent on building new schools. Our monies (moneys?)for new schools in this year's proposed budget totals $300,000,000-- and that is for just under 1 million students, but we are growing much faster than Illinois.

Additionally, part of the $550 million increase is due to inflation. All good state budgets have in place at least a 2-3% automatic increase for inflation.

Much of the rest could very well be due to increased enrollment.

Illionois growth rate is right around 1%. A 1% increase in your student enrollment would be 20,000 new students. That adds $220,000,000 to the budget without increasing the amount of money you are spending per pupil.

So, if Illionois shows a 1% growth (220 mil) and is building/repairing schools (300 mil) it could easily look like the legislators are making a vast increase of a half billion when they are just keeping up with the new population and making sure that students have safe schools to attend.

Again, this is what we are doing in Arizona. I don't know if it is the same in Illinois.

I sure wish we spent Illinois-money on our kids!

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous budget reader said...

OK, I think I understand -- the IN State budget for next year is 2.83% higher than last year. That would be the inflation amount.

The Indiana EDUCATION budget grows by 7.52% or 2.7 times the inflation number. So inflation accounts for $188 million of the $550M increase in education spending.

So, the remaining $362 million increase must be due to NET new students coming into the Indiana school system or construction.

With Education growing so much faster than the Total Budget growth rate, something else must be declining.

The decline is in Economic Development and Transportaion -- they were CUT 34.7% for a total reduction of $471 million.

If I did the math right, I still don't see how the Governor is balancing the budget on the kids' backs. It seems like Economic Development and Transportation are taking the big cuts.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indiana Public School Superintendent

Someone once said, "All politics is local." Meaning of course that everyone views the political landscape through how it affects them personally at home.

You ask an excellent question:

How can there be an increase in overall spending in Indiana education, and still educators are crying about budget cuts and "balancing budgets on the backs of kids?"

There are only around 300 school districts in Indiana. Depending on who you listen to, the predictions are that anywhere from 150-200+ school districts will lose money under the current budget formulas. This is because the money will "follow the child" which is the republican version of the budget bill.

This was a very clever way of saying "stick it to districts that are not fortunate enough to be booming in population and industry growth." Unfortunately for hundreds of thousands of Hoosier children, they live in the wrong neighborhood, one that isn't growing. This is may be one thing that rural Hoosiers and inner-city children have in common.

These growing school districts do have a problem, the same problem many districts have had for 30 years. But now, their per/pupil average is now matching ours.

Ten years ago many schools around the Indy donut, used to be ranked in the top 25% of the state and now they hover in the bottom 25%. NOW the legislatures want the money to follow the child. THEN they can return to their former rankings in time. No one was crying for money to follow the child 10 years ago.

This is one of those logical sounding soundbites that plays well to the public as long as they don't know what it really means for their kids and grandkids.

Want to hear something interesting?

My school district is one of the wealthiest in the state on a per/pupil basis in assessed property wealth. Yet by state budget formula we are in the lowest quartile of the state in financial rankings and the school board has no control over it. It is a function of the legislature approved school formula.

Under current budget bills we will drop farther until we are near last. One of the wealthiest in the state by property and one of the poorest in terms of money per student. And, with a state controlled tax rate that puts them in the top 30%. Try that on for size. Richest by wealth, top 30% by tax rate, and bottom 25% for students and staff.

Put in laymans terms for the public: Our tax payers are getting hosed. They pay more and get less.

How do we offer programs for students? Easy, our staff pays for it. Our teacher salaries are several thousand a year behind other schools and we routinely lose good teaching candidates because of it.

No one really cares but us. So we deal with it.

But imagine being a CEO in an industry were you have no control over revenue and you have little to no contol on the expense side either. It's 90 percent salary expense and you are already behind all your competitors.

What do you do?

Two choices - both bad. Let salary differentials grow even greater with no hope of keeping up, or cut programs for children.

We will be doing both.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous sorry to be dense said...

Your losing me with --"Put in laymans terms for the public: Our tax payers are getting hosed. They pay more and get less."

The IN budget clearly shows Hoosier taxpayers are paying more for Education this year than last, by $550,000,000. That's the MORE part.

To pay that much more, the Governor is cutting other departmental budgets severely.

If the money is following the child and the child stays in IN aren't we still paying more?

How am I getting less for $550M MORE in education spending.

Sorry to be so stupid on this, but can you show your math? Thanks.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Dense -- here's what you're's a classic fixed cost/variable revenue problem.

When Student A moves from one school district to another, the funding associated with Student A moves, too.

BUT, the school that Student A left is not able to reduce their costs commensurate with the lost revenue. I.E. -- the costs at each school are relatively fixed - salaries, heat, light, etc.

Example - a school has six grades with two classes per grade, 25 students per class and receives $5,000 per student in funding for a total budget of $1.5M. Let's say at that funding level they are break-even on expenses.

If 3 students per class move to another school district, that district just lost $180,000 in funding, BUT they are not able to cut an equivalent classroom expense because they did not lose enough kids to consolidate classes.

So, they have to cut things like band, art or extra-curricular activities.

The school district that received Student A gets a bonus that year - they have $5,000 in funding, but have no marginal costs.

At some point, however, the growing school district has to add teachers and classrooms and more expenses -- it is a step function.

Looking at Indiana AS A WHOLE, Hoosier taxpayers ARE paying more for Education and it IS growing faster than any other line item -- including healthcare.

But at the DISTRICT level, there is a lot of financial pain associated with a population that moves around.

The only option that addresses this is not to have the money IMMEDIATELY move with the child -- perhaps pay the Sending school 3/4's funding in year 1 and the Receiving school 1/4; pay both 1/2 funding in year 2; and the Sending school 1/4 funding in year three and the Receiving school 3/4's.

It would be a bookkeeping challenge, but it would smooth the financial impact at the district level. And Education would still be the fastest growing budget line.

At Monday, March 14, 2005, Anonymous Dense said...

If a school's costs are mostly salaries and they are essentially fixed doesn't this mean by definition that 1/2 to 2/3 of Indiana's school districts will always be under financial stress?

How do they get out of it?

At Monday, March 14, 2005, Anonymous Retired old businessman said...

They can't. It is a structural issue.

The best analogy (though not perfect) is the U.S. automotive industry.

Making cars is a huge fixed cost business -- plants, payroll and pensions. The revenue variation comes from foreign competition and economic cycles.

When car sales decline, the Big Three lose massive amounts of money because they can't lower payroll costs (unions), they can't shut portions of a plant and they can't drop retiree benefits (although they are headed that way).

Outsourcing has helped ease some of the costs, but the auto industry is destined to be a painful and unpleasant one in which to work.

Sadly for the many good teachers in America, they are destined to work in a similar climate of perpetual agony and fear because of the fixed cost nature of the education "industry".


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