Early education really worth it?
Indiana seems on the verge of broadening – some might say “cluttering up” – its school voucher efforts with a pilot preschool education program. The plan being considered by both House and Senate committees would spend $7 million a year to send 1,000 students from five counties to preschool.
There is bipartisan support for the pilot program overall, but public education representatives are objecting to a provision that would give those students vouchers to attend private schools. As the voucher program now stands, students have to attend public school for at least a year before qualifying. Voucher supporters have favored ending that wait-time, and this effort is seen as an unfair workaround to that requirement.
The critics should also focus a little attention on the preschool issue itself, though.
Money from all the wrong places
An important lesson of taxation, which Indiana officials seem to have forgotten and Lake County officials are learning the hard way, is that where a unit of government gets its money is almost as important as how much it gets.
Lake County officials are trying to figure out how to overcome the problems they caused for themselves by being the only one of Indiana’s 92 counties that refused to implement the local option income tax approved by the state. Under discussion are plans to impose a 1.25 to 1.5 income tax.
The state has punished Lake County for not having the income tax by freezing the amount of property taxes it can collect. Because of the freeze and a separate law that caps the amount of taxes collected on any single property, the county has lost out on tens millions of dollars it could have collected.
GOP, be careful with rebranding
After losing two presidential elections in a row by margins that weren’t exactly close, Republicans are feeling battered and unloved. So apparently great is the disdain of Americans for the GOP that they tell pollsters they prefer the Republican approach to budget policies – until they learn the ideas are Republican ones.
So the GOP is trying to “rebrand” itself into something that might win a national election again. But if they do too much repair work while in a state of desperate panic, Republicans are not likely to get it right.
“Our message was weak,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said. “Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital, and our primary and debate process needed improvement. So, there’s no one solution. There’s a long list …”
False premise, flawed policy
The minimum wage is a flawed policy based on a false premise, and the more it is raised the more apparent its defects become. Indiana officials seem to grasp that. Federal officials haven’t a clue.
In Indiana, the House voted down a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage by $1, so it will remain at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. “We’re better off to let the market dictate this – let people decide what they’re willing to work for and let employers decide that they’re willing to pay,” said State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel. Exactly so.
President Obama, meanwhile, proposes to raise the federal minimum to $9, and some would go even further. If we’d raised the minimum starting in 1960 to match increases in productivity, says Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., today “it would be about $22 an hour.”
Should we add to choice now?
Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has the right idea for the state’s ambitious school voucher system: Before expanding it, let’s “give it a rest for some time, say five years, and study it” to determine what effect it is having.
House Republicans advanced a plan to expand the voucher program last month that includes raising the maximum amount of each voucher to $5,500, raising the income eligibility limits for certain families and allowing children entering kindergarten to forgo a one-year stay in a public school.
House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, was right when he told members of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee that vouchers would give Indiana more options. But since the program is barely a year old, there is no data yet on what effect choice has had.