The issue of school bond elections is rising to the surface in the state once again. Not only are the communities of Stanley and Bismarck preparing for bond votes on March 7th, but the issue is before the state legislature as well.
The House Political Subdivisions Committee heard testimony February 9th on House Bill 1435. This bill is sponsored by Kathy Skroch (R – District 26) and, if passed, would require school bond issues to be put on general election ballots.
For those unfamiliar with school bond issues, it is not uncommon for school districts to intentionally place them on the ballot in special or off-year elections. These elections typically have low voter turnout and often favor such proposals.
Aside from this disadvantage, property owners are also at an added disadvantage, because they are the minority. There are more people that don’t pay property taxes than there are those that do.
Another disadvantage, not often thought of, is the fact that property owners in smaller populated school districts have to fight against the very faculty and staff of the schools that educate their children and grandchildren. What I mean by that is that faculty and staff alone, even in a smaller district, can still number around 200. That’s a lot of likely votes in a small community.
Let’s be honest, school bond issues are immoral and wrong. They plunder property owners by allowing one group to vote on whether the other will pay. They often pit school districts against the very communities they are designed to serve.
I would imagine that if those not owning property had to be the tax collectors for those that do, they wouldn’t be nearly as excited to vote “Yes”.
After all, most people would never think of plundering their neighbors. So, why are they okay with the government doing it on their behalf? One is just as immoral as the other.
The North Dakota State Constitution says the state is responsible for K-12 education and it’s funding. Yet, we continue to place this burden on property owners through the plunder of property taxes. It needs to stop.
Rather than the state choosing to use the billions in the School Lands Trust Fund for these bond issues, they are investing them in Wall Street, and recent audits show mismanagement of these funds. We need to demand better. We need a change in Bismarck.
Until the state begins meeting it’s constitutional obligation for K-12 education, we also need to revisit who should get to vote on school bond issues. So long as property owners foot the bill, only they should get to vote on them. Anything else is sometimes no different than a couple of chickens in a room full of hungry wolves voting on what’s for dinner.