I got to thinking about what a real conservative would do with our tax dollars: first and foremost, I think they'd spend the money prudently. The self-identified creationist candidates, who also claim to be fiscal conservatives, were opposed to either part or all of last spring's school referendum.
But wouldn't real fiscal conservatives spend a little money now to save a lot of money later?
Yeah, that's what I thought too.
To me this suggests they're social conservatives but not fiscal conservatives. To me this suggests they're more interested in managing the tax-payers' morality than they are in managing the tax-payers' money.
The past is prologue
The best part about true fiscal conservatism is that it doesn't waste money; it isn't penny wise and pound foolish. It keeps an eye on the net, even while fiddling with the gross. For those of you who don't consider teaching religious doctrines in a science class a litmus test for electability as it is, I'm afraid, for me, then what about handling the school district's money?
Well, now that we're almost a year away from last spring's School District referendums, we can look back at the failure of the anti-tax pro-cuts point of view to embody real fiscal conservatism. Should we call those in the pro-cuts lobby Conservatives in Name Only? Let's see.
What's clear now is this: had voters listened to the anti-tax pro-cuts point of view, it would have cost us money.
Speaking against spending any taxpayer money on children is certainly one way to look fiscally conservative, but being fiscally conservative is another matter. The retrofit on Badger was not something that could be put off. The building had been in violation of ADA provisions for some years. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen. The true fiscal conservatives were the School Board members who, last year, went through the numbers, carefully calculating cost versus benefit across a spectrum of possible budgetary shortfalls and, working against a state budget process that consistently clobbers West Bend, came up with the best economic solution for the taxpayer: spend some money now to avoid spending a lot of money later. Real fiscal conservatives know that spending a little money sooner can save a ton of dough later. The antitax pro-cuts point of view stood against this principle, arguing that the spending was neither necessary nor prudent. In light of Badger's condition and the potential for lawsuits the spending was necessary – but was it prudent, after all?
Baird submitted a report last month showing that, by passing the Badger component of the referendum when we did, voters here have saved themselves $9.7 million dollars and, because the project was started when it was, the bidding came in $500,000 lower than originally estimated. All of which puts the taxpayer ahead by over $10 million. Saving $10 million in taxpayer dollars for something that had to be done seems prudent to me.
Mr. Weigand, one of the creationist candidates who cleared Tuesday's primary, was opposed to both parts of the referendum but the other candidate, Mr. Marquardt, broke with the pro-cuts crowd and came out in favor of the Badger renovation, even though he opposed investing any money to repair the elementary schools. But imagine how much more money the taxpayer would have saved had voters approved both components of the referendum (and remember, within the city of West Bend, the other part of the referendum only lost by 16 votes). Moreover, imagine the $10 million that would have been lost had voters listened to the anti-tax pro-cuts groups last spring and voted against the Badger project.
Work on the school district's buildings can always be postponed, but not indefinitely. Eventually we have to spend the money on repairs and retrofitting. Had we waited a year on Badger, it would have cost us $10 million. How much more will it cost us for putting off repairs and upgrades on the elementary schools?
Seems to me a true fiscal conservative would spend a little money in the short term in order to save tax payers money in the long term: exactly the course taken by the members of the school board now running for re-election: Mr. Corazzi and Ms. Van Eerden.
So if you want to vote on the basis of who will be more prudent when it comes to spending your money wisely, the past is prologue.