Thumbs up; thumbs down

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Thumbs Up

Planning in Perryville

We like how the process of updating Perryville’s future land use map is going. A proposed new map laying out where commercial, residential, mixed-use and other areas could be planned for in the city will be examined at an open house this Thursday. The map was designed — with help from the county P&Z office — by Perryville leaders. Now, the public will have a chance to review the map and offer their own opinions.

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If you’re from Perryville and want to check it out, the open house will be 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Perryville Community Center on Buell Street.

P&Z Director Steve Hunter told The Advocate-Messenger last week that the process is designed to let Perryville set its own goals for the future. If Perryville residents don’t like something about the proposed map, it may be sent back to the local leaders for further revision.

We applaud the idea of a future land use map designed by Perryville residents, with input from more Perryville residents, for use by Perryville in setting up its own destiny. We’re all familiar with complaints that higher levels of government are too prescriptive in their solutions and don’t leave enough room for local decisions; this is a good example of a healthy governmental relationship: The county-level P&Z office is assisting and enabling people at the local level to make their own decisions.

Thumbs Down

State education cuts

Want an example of a dysfunctional relationship between local and regional government? Look at what the state wants to do to education funding for its 173 public school districts.

The legislature and governor are as unwilling as ever to face the fact that good-paying jobs require good educations, which require investment in education. They are unwilling to look at ways to raise revenue (not all revenue increases are tied to tax rate increases) rather than slashing education funding by millions. They like to pretend this is simply the nature of making hard decisions on a tight budget, but the reality is they are shirking their duty to make the hard decision, leaving it for local school districts to make instead.

In Lincoln County, there could be a substantial reduction in teachers next year because the school district could lose $1.9 million in state funding. That reduction appears to have a chance of resulting in the cutting or elimination of agriculture education programming, among other career pathway programs. That would mean fewer students graduating with the chance to be successful, fewer students able to surpass their parents’ accomplishments, fewer students with the qualifications needed to attract high-paying employers.

Danville and Boyle County districts may not be looking at problems quite as severe as Lincoln, but it’s safe to say they will be harmed by state funding cuts as well. In every local public school district around the state, the state’s inability to make the hard decisions means locals must instead choose the mix of education cuts and tax increases they can most easily stomach.

State and federal governments can be pretty cagey about how they phrase what they’re doing when it hurts local control. You won’t hear them acknowledge this, so we’ll spell it out: The proposed cuts amount to a state mandate to local schools that they either tax their populations more or educate their kids less.