13 thoughts on “The Cost of “No New Taxes” Part I’velosttrack

  1. Newt says:

    I love this – the cause of bridge collapse was officially attributed to an engineering failure, yet Bruce persists in painting this tragedy as some kind of revenue problem.

    Care to bet if MnDOT’s out-of-state travel has been curtailed (not to mention their annual golf outing a Breezy Point)?

    Now, on to toilet paper. Yes it is embarrassing. But only for schools that continue to mismanage resources and make shameful attempts to guilting families into approving new operating levy referenda.

    How could Minneapolis Schools approve the construction of a new $25 million administrative building, yet ask kids to pay for pencils and asswipes?

    1. PM says:

      Newt: regarding bridges, the point isn’t who is to blame, but rather how to correct the existing deficiencies. The cause of the bridge collapse is totally irrelevant to the point of the post–another red herring from you.

      Unless we want more bridges falling down (and we know that there are a lot more of them out there that have serious problems), then we are going to have to spend money to fix them. There is no additional revenue to fix this problem, right? we are facing a huge deficit, right? And there is still more that needs to be spent, on things like crumbling infrastructure, right?

      That sounds like a revenue problem to me.

      1. Newt says:

        Red herring? Then why the photo of the bridge collapse? Why the reference to I-35W?

        If revenue wasn’t the problem with that bridge, then why does Bruce even mention it?

      2. PM says:

        Revenue is the reason the bridge wasn’t fixed before it collapsed. Revenue is the reason there is a huge backlog in repairing/fixing the deficient bridges across the state. Revenue is what is preventing the state from performing its primary role–protecting the citizens of the state. Citizens of the state died when the I-35 bridge collapsed. The problems with that bridge were known. It could have/should have been fixed BEFORE it collapsed–if the state had been doing its job.

  2. Mike Kennedy says:

    Where is all that stimulus money going? Apparently not to infrastructure. Gee, I thought that is one thing government was legitimately supposed to do.

    Constantly throwing money at something doesn’t always correlate with making it better. Anyone in business can tell you that.

    We have tripled per pupil spending on education (adjusted for inflation) since 1970, yet results haven’t been there really on any measure.

    Back in the 50s and 60s, there were 2.5 teachers for every non teaching position. That is now 1:1. In our own district, we had a superintendent plus several assistant superintendents. Bureaucratic growth is out of control.

    No cutting taxes is not always the answer, but neither is throwing more and more money at our priorities. Schools are not run as businesses. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons they lack economic efficiency

    1. PM says:

      think about it, Mike–in most businesses, efficiency is measured by units of output per unit of labor–you become more efficient by having each worker produce more.

      the output of education is students, and the principal (by an overwhelming margin) labor is–teachers. So to increase efficiency, you need to dramatically increase the student to teacher ratio.

      yet what is it that every parent wants? a lower student to teacher ratio. The public (the voters) demand the lowest possible student teacher ratios, and will move to other school districts to get the best student teacher ratios.

      And one of the forces that is driving the growth of administration is to take administrative burdens off of the teachers–para=professionals they are called. These are the people who accompany the children with special needs who are being mainstreamed in the schools, who do all the remedial teaching, who conduct most of the mandated standardized tests, who handle the discipline, who deal with the parents…..

      I think that it is really hard to talk about economic efficiency and education in the same breath–because it isn’t, frankly what we, the voters, want.

  3. Newt says:

    “The output of education is students.”


    Ah, the students are the input and test scores reflecting educational attainment are the output.

    PM frightens me.

  4. Mike Kennedy says:


    Well, not every voter or parent. Student teacher ratios have declined from 28:1 to 16:1 from 1950 to today — on average. What is appropriate, 2-1?

    Personally, I feel this ratio is overblown in its significance and yes I am sure I am in the minority.

    What is clear, though, is that voters are tired of spending increasing amounts on school and will have to make some hard choices.

    There are many reasons why education budgets keep increasing — I’m only touching on a few. I have now put three kids through high school and am dumbstruck by the bureaucratic layers. We had a principal and two ass. principals and I’ve never met one of them nor do I understand exactly what they do.

  5. john sherman says:

    One thing that’s being overlooked is the changes in the population being educated in the last fifty years. Some time in the 60’s the federal government began requiring that all children, no matter how disabled (okay, I know I’m supposed to say “differently abled,” but I’m too old a dog to learn that new trick), be educated up to their capacity. Now, this is morally right, politically right and, for the society as a whole, even economically right, but it’s really expensive for the schools, particularly since this is a severely underfunded mandate.

    Some years ago the late Al Shanker remarked that if you go back to the 50’s and take a typical class of that time and carry it forward, the cost, adjusted for inflation, hasn’t changed; the new population is what has raised the cost. When there is a student whose education plan costs $80,000 a year, that raises hell with the school’s budget. It also explains some of the increase in staff; special students require special staff.

  6. John Reinan says:

    At my daughter’s public Minneapolis elementary school, there were several students who had full-time aides assigned to them. I don’t know how many there were in the entire school overall — I just know of at least 3 who were in classes with her. Obviously that kind of thing costs a ton of dough.

    A friend of mine used to be with McKinsey — the Mpls office of McKinsey did a pro bono analysis of the Mpls district a few years ago. One of their findings was that special needs students were responsible for a very large and growing portion of the budget.

    I don’t have the answer to this. I don’t want to demonize these kids and their parents, who are trying to do what’s best for their children. The movement to mainstream special needs children stemmed from admirable motives. I’m not sure we can ever go back to the way we handled kids with learning challenges 50 years ago.

    But one of the kids in my daughter’s class appeared to be profoundly retarded — I’m not sure if he will ever learn to read or write. Is he really happier in that classroom than he would be in a “special ed” classroom of the kind we had when I was in grade school? I can’t say — maybe he is. But we may have to start asking these kinds of uncomfortable questions.

    1. john sherman says:

      One thing that ought to happen is that the feds ought to start paying for what they mandate. The last figures I remember seeing, and they may be wildly out of date, is that after promising to pay for mainstreaming, the feds actually forked over about 40% of the cost. It is an example of Dayton’s quixoticry as senator that he routinely introduced bills that would require the feds to pay the full tab; the bills, not surprisingly, went nowhere.

      In the mid 50’s I was in high school and had a friend who had a Downs syndrome brother who was institutionalized; it wasn’t quite a shameful secret, but the family wasn’t real eager to talk about the subject, but they would go to visit him maybe monthly. Flash forward maybe thirty years, and a friend of had a Downs syndrome son who went through the educational system, got some kind of training, got a job and lives in a group home. The new system is better for the kid, better for the society and probably cheaper, but it relies on the school system to do a lot of the heavy lifting, without much in the way of compensation.

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