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Furthermore …

‘Evil triplets’ no worse than Hoosier tax caps

As Hoosier voters consider writing tax caps into the state constitution, Colorado voters are weighing three ballot measures that a school official there calls the “evil triplets.”

According to Stateline.org, the three tax-cutting measures would compromise the authority of state and local governments to raise and borrow money. One measure would slash taxes on income and real estate and reduce fees on auto registrations and telecommunications. Another would place strict limits on borrowing, to the point that construction projects would be in doubt.

Glenn Gustafson, chief financial officer for the Colorado Springs school system, who came up with the “evil triplets” line, said the measures could force prisons to close, schools to fall apart and highways to crumble.

“Are we really ready for the anarchy of an uneducated population that we can’t lock up in prison?” he asks.

At a glance, the Colorado measures look more modest than what already is in place in Indiana. Amendment 60 in Colorado would cut school property tax rates in half by 2020 and replace them with state funds to backfill those cuts.

In Indiana, the General Assembly raised the sales-tax rate in 2008 and picked up the balance of all school general-fund costs from local property taxes. The legislation created the financial squeeze for K-12 education as sales-tax revenues fell with the recession.

Perhaps Colorado voters should look to Indiana for a view of what could be in store.

Is Greenwood school inviting criticism?

Greenwood school officials are looking a bit like petulant schoolchildren in response to a federal court ruling that their practice of having students vote on whether to include a prayer at commencement violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Since the ruling, the school has lifted its requirement that graduation speeches be reviewed in advance for content, grammar and length, a requirement most schools follow.

School Superintendent David Edds wouldn’t comment on why the long-standing requirement was dropped, other than to say, “It’s the First Amendment, freedom of speech.”

Valedictorian Eric Workman filed a lawsuit against the Greenwood school district charging that a school-sanctioned prayer at graduation and a student poll leading to it were unconstitutional. A majority of students voted in favor of a prayer.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker said the vote “trampled” the rights of the minority, and the school “put itself in constitutional duck soup.” She issued a preliminary injunction against the school, saying the process in which students voted to have the prayer violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

The school did not appeal, but its commencement speech review seems to be an invitation for students who might disagree with the federal judge and their classmate to say so in a less-than-respectful manner.

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