This story about area school board elections is both a revealing look at the state of the modern conservative philosophy of how to govern, as well as a stark reminder of why these obscure little elections really do matter.
In Cy-Fair ISD, where six people are running for two seats, challengers are campaigning to protect an optional 20 percent homestead exemption that administrators suggested slashing earlier this year to stave off spending cuts. While candidates say recession-related frustration drove them to advocate for relief for home and business owners, few have specific plans on how to both lower taxes and improve the quality of education.
“I wish I had an answer for that. If I did, I’d be a real politician,” said Cy-Fair candidate Willie Wright, a real estate agent who said she’s running to help build a conservative consensus on the board. “There’s some of us that just have recognized that we need to be fiscally responsible.”
Another challenger, Bill Morris, wrote in a school district candidate questionnaire that Cy-Fair needs to keep its homestead exemption and “encourage morality-based principles in our classrooms.”
Remember, this is the same Cy-Fair that had to lay off staff and drastically reduce bus service because of that property tax exemption. But don’t worry, the magic pixie dust of the free market will rescue them, or something. You Cy-Fair parents who say you want better bus service, I hope you’re paying attention to this.
And just to demonstrate that there’s no idea so bad that nobody will want to copy it:
Backed by residents of the wealthy Royal Oaks neighborhood, the Improve Alief Schools Political Action Committee is pushing for tax relief and academic improvements. At question is the size of budget cuts that would be needed to offset an extra homestead exemption.
Administrators have said the tax break could cost teachers jobs, while the three PAC-backed candidates say it can be done without staff cuts.
Marilyn Swick, one of the conservative challengers in Alief, argued that a tax break could be granted without cutting teachers. When pressed, she said she couldn’t yet provides specific examples of what she would propose cutting.
“People have blown this out of proportion with their own scare tactics,” she said. “I’m running to improve academic standards. I’m not even here to talk about (tax relief).”
In other words, cut the taxes first and ask the questions later. I don’t think there’s anything to add to that.