Controversy greets Garofalo plan to limit levy votes to general-election years

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, proposed legislation this morning that will inspire passionate debate across the state.

Garofalo, chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, believes that school districts should be limited to holding referendums only in general election years. The legislation is being proposed in the name of “transparency,’’ Garofalo said.

“This bill is about transparency, open democracy and greater public participation in school levies,’’ he said. “Districts know the facts — their levies are more likely to be approved in odd-year elections because of lower voter engagement. There are more than $900 million worth of tax revenue increases over the next five years on the ballot next week, and that deserves the voting public’s maximum attention.’’

Garofalo cited Minnesota Department of Education stats that show that levy referendums held in odd-numbered years pass at a rate of 70 percent. Referendums held in even-numbered [election] years have only a 52 percent passage rate.

Districts, Garofalo said, are “exploiting’’ this situation.

DFLers reacted quickly to Garofalo’s proposal.

“This announcement by Rep. Garofalo is an unbelievable ruse to cover the mess the GOP majorities created for our schools this past year,’’ said Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, in a statement.

“Changing when school districts can hold levy elections will cover up for the fact that state funding — when adjusted for inflation — has decreased 13 percent since 2003 nor that the state spends 7.8 percent less per student now than it did just three years ago.’’

Wiger said the U.S. Department of Education reports that since 1970, Minnesota has sunk from fifth to 22nd in the nation in student spending.

“This proposal does absolutely nothing to help our students succeed or to close Minnesota’s persistent achievement gap,” he said.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Tim Ward on 11/02/2011 - 04:26 pm.

    The GOP likes “local control.” Unless the locals dont’ do what they want.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/02/2011 - 05:07 pm.

    Propaganda 101

    Scare quotes (good):

    Districts, Garofalo said, are “exploiting’’ this situation.

    Faithfully reported quote (bad):

    “Districts are exploiting this situation” Garofalo said.

  3. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/03/2011 - 06:59 am.

    Rest assure, the GOP can always blame the results on “voter fraud”.

  4. Submitted by scott gibson on 11/03/2011 - 08:05 am.

    Republicans want to restrict the public’s ability to decide on issues (when it suits their purposes). Recude or restrict the ability of the public to fund government (here, meaning schools) by limiting when voting can take place. Or try to make it nearly impossible to raise taxes (like requiring super majorities). And they certainly hate institutionalized funding (the Legacy Amendment). On the flip side, they want to put to a vote things that many folks feel are personal rights (same-sex marriage). Meddle with folks’ personal lives. Limit their ability to voluntarily fund their school choices. Bad all the way around.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/03/2011 - 09:42 am.

    G.O.P. solution:
    no voters = no fraud.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/04/2011 - 07:05 am.

    Well played Paul.

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