The Moscow School Board voted yesterday to hold an election in March to increase their supplemental levy by $1.97 million. Now there are a number of questions that normally swirl around levy issues. (Is the money used wisely? Why is MSD more expensive than other districts? Voters who pursue other education options being less inclined to support it, and so on.)
But in this case, and in this election, I think all these standard issues are really beside the point. The real point in this election is one of simple affordability. The major industry in town (the University of Idaho) is in serious decline. Our Moscow civic leadership has been busy chasing new prospective businesses out of town. Within the next year, a good portion of the tax base is going to move just across the state line, and the businesses in the new mall there will no doubt set up some blinking lights to summon Moscow shoppers over. Ross Perot’s famous phrase about the giant sucking sound comes to mind.
Another illustration that comes to mind is the one about champagne tastes and a beer budget. And you can’t chase all the champagne vendors out of town, and then complain about the beer. As a simple matter of economics, tax support for the MSD requires a thriving tax base. When you cut the latter, you cut the former. Some might want to complain, if this levy goes down, that it was the nefarious work of home schoolers, Christian conservatives, or what not. But this one appears to me to have been done already, without any opponents of “government schools” lifting a finger.
No, this was done by the liberals running the Moscow show. You can’t take a chain saw to the orchard, and wonder resentfully the following autumn about the apple shortage.