Back in my pre-Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover days--when I was incredibly foolish with my money--any raise, credit limit increase or "pre-approved" credit card application was treated like an opportunity to go out and spend and borrow more money. Getting those few extra bucks allowed me to delay having to make some tough--but not debilitating--choices about how I was spending my money. Eventually, the raises don't come as regularly (or never) and banks stop adding water to the pool of debt in which you are drowning--and the less-painful cuts that could have been made years ago suddenly become big life-altering options that you have no choice but to make. What you find out is that just because you make more doesn't mean you still shouldn't look to lower your expenses.
Unfortunately, I see the Oshkosh School District heading in this same direction as formerly-money-foolish Me. One thing I have not heard in any of the presentations, School Board workshops or media appearances by Superintendent Stan Mack is the plan for not needing to come back with an even bigger referendum request when the seven-year issue on the ballot next week expires. I think the plan is to (like I did) just keep spending because now there is no longer a reason to cutback--and just hope that voters in 2021 will approve 38 or 48 or even 58-million dollars in additional spending.
We had Dale Knapp from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance on the WOSH Morning News Focus yesterday. They just completed a study on school referenda--that found voters are far more amenable to temporary property tax increases--rather than permanently exceeding the state-mandated revenue cap. And while that is good for the short-term (3-7 years) it sets those districts on an endless cycle of having to bring larger and larger referenda before the voters, until one day, those who used to say "yes" finally vote "no"--and the short list of cuts that were on that first ballot issue suddenly become HUGE cuts that likely could have been avoided with proper long-range planning.
Superintendent Mack will be in for his monthly WOSH Morning News Focus appearance on Friday at 8:30. We'll be sure to ask him about the new Seven Year Plan that should accompany any request for a "yes" vote on April 1st.