By Sean Cruz
Oregon Republican candidate for Governor Chris Dudley has announced a new education “plan” right on the heels of his 26-Point “Plan to Control Spending and Reform Government”.
The Dudley education “plan” and his “Plan to Control Spending” have two points in common:
The first point is that both “plans” drastically ramp up spending without explaining where the new money is going to come from.
The second point is that there are no actual budget numbers attached to either “plan.”
A third point to make would be the fact that neither “plan” makes much sense.
The tea party anti-government mentality at the core of Dudley’s campaign isn't concerned with real solutions and mostly couldn't pass a basic civics exam. They just know what they don't like.
What they don’t like is government spending, budget and fee increases, and the expansion of bureaucracies, yet Dudley’s “ideas” offer precisely that.
The fact that Oregon's population is increasing drives both budget and fee increases. So does inflation. Neither factor can be controlled by politicians or political parties. Those are conditions that are imposed on Oregon from without.
The Oregon legislature and the new Governor must find ways to deliver essential services in the face of shrinking revenues, a cobbled-together revenue system that was never designed as a “system”, and these outside forces.
Dudley's free scholarship "idea" offers yet another uncontrollable budget scenario, which is the number of graduating seniors with GPAs of 3.5 and up in any given year, multiplied by the actual cost of tuition, which can be expected to rise over time in increments that cannot be predicted. Uncontrollable spending.
A real plan would have the numbers attached. What would the cost be if Dudley's "plan" was implemented in 2010, using the numbers available right now? The point is that the numbers are available, but the Dudley team realizes that their supporters don't care anyway.
In a televised interview, Dudley stated that he wants to create a new exam that every high school senior must pass in order to graduate. When the reporter asked what would happen to the students who didn’t pass the new exam, he responded that he wanted to add tutoring in the lower grades so that no student would fail to read at grade level.
He says he wants to hire tutors, but offers no plan for how that might happen, where the funds would come from and how much money it would require.
The Dudley fans couldn't care less.
Dudley wants to take a whack at teachers, but ignores the fact that many of them are spending their own money on classroom supplies and taking furlough days.
He's stepping into that charter school/online school quagmire, too. The religious right thinks that public schools are too liberal and wants to bleed off their resources, the anti-government types can only be satisfied when they've closed everything down, and the ignorant are often dead set on remaining so.
Dudley's lack of basic fitness for the job of Governor, the utter absence of real solutions in his campaign rhetoric, and his unwillingness to enter into any open discussions of the issues important to Oregonians, are all combining to make it very difficult to maintain my neutrality in this race.
Every idea, good or bad, has a price tag associated with it, and it is not helpful to the discussion for candidates to throw out ideas with no budget numbers or revenue sources attached.
A plan without the numbers is just empty rhetoric.
I'll grant that a lot of people are happy with just that.