Wyoming Liberty Group
We all get the warm fuzzies, don’t we, when the auto mechanic confidently assures us he knows the cause of our car’s clunking, that it can be fixed by end of day and it will only cost a small amount? Sure; but then hope and reality clash when the work starts. Taking a look under the hood, the mechanic decides whatever it is, it’s going to take longer and it’s going to cost more – a lot more.
We read frequently about employers who desperately want to hire and put people to work. And we often read about how young people are desperate to find jobs “with a living wage.” So why aren’t they teaming up and living happily ever after? Where’s the disconnect?
Wyoming has been paying a ton of money for K-12 education since 2005. The reason for the heavy spending? It was a major Wyoming Supreme Court/Legislative overhaul of the way our schools were being funded to equalize spending among students.
Now we find that the consultants, on whose advice the spending was largely based, criticize the system for weak performance. Unbiased observers who look at the facts have to agree that skyrocketing spending isn’t improving results.
Most Wyoming folks like to think of themselves as smart shoppers. We like to cheerfully tell friends about the good deals we’ve found or how paying list price for the latest pickup was worth it. Oddly enough, we don’t seem to shop the same way for our children’s K-12 educations. We neither know nor care how much is being spent nor whether we’re getting our money’s worth. Should we?
State revenues are declining dramatically and are expected to continue to decline. That means big ticket items, even crucial ones like K-12 education, must feel the pinch. No one wants the quality of education in Wyoming to drop, but the spending on it must decrease. Why? The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) projected in January that total minerals distributions in the five-year period 2016-2020 would be 29 percent or some $2.6 billion less than in the five years 2011-15. That will require real efficiencies and they can only be found where real dollars are being spent.