Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What color is the sky in your world?

The Winona Daily News editorial board pens an editorial today that starts out by decrying half truths, and then proceeds to tell a couple of full lies to try to make its point.

Responding to Rep Steve Drazkowski's skepticism of the rash of school funding referendums on the ballot this fall, WDN says Drazkowski is telling a half truth when he mentions the per pupil increase in funding, because of the funding shift that ended up in the budget deal.

Drazkowski is half right: The Legislature actually gave a per-pupil funding increase, the first in a long time. That means every student is worth more to a school district than they were last year or the year before.
Yet that ignores what the Legislature did to those same schools. Instead of paying school districts the full amount, the state will now defer a larger percentage of those funds, causing districts to dip into reserves or, if they don’t have any, to borrow against the state’s promise of paying later.

But the next sentence shows the WDN editorial board is either partisan to the core, or unable to recall the details of the legislative session and resulting budget deal;

It’s called a funding shift and it was the only way the GOP-controlled Legislature, packed with more politicians than statesmen, could pass a budget.

This isn't a half truth, a simple mis-characterization, or a bit of rhetorical exaggeration.  It is a flat out lie, in fact it is two lies for the price of one.

First, the GOP legislature passed a balanced budget that had no school funding shift included during the regular session.  That budget was vetoed by Governor Dayton, and K-12 funding was not the reason for the veto according to the governor.  Saying the funding shift 'was the only way' the GOP could pass a budget is a flat out lie, and the editors owe their readers an apology.

Second, the school funding shift was an idea presented by the DFL and the governor's office.  It was not proposed by the GOP, as evidenced by the offer sheet from the governor's office on June 30th.  It introduced the idea of increasing the previous funding shift of 70:30 (70% of budget this year, 30% next fiscal year) to 50:50.

I have yet to meet anyone in Minnesota who is happy with the school funding shift solution, either the previous 30 percent delay or the current 50 percent.  But for the Winona Daily News to state (not even subtly imply) that the GOP did not pass a education budget without the shift, or that the shift was a GOP idea has no basis in reality. 

Editorial boards are expected to express their opinions on controversial issues-but they cannot create their own facts.  The Winona Daily News owes Steve Drazkowski an apology and a correction.

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