Is Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, using his bully pulpit as House education finance chair to wage war on our children?

Garofalo believes local voter-approved levies are a mechanism for "fleecing the taxpayers," and he's calling on others in his party to join him in opposing local school levy campaigns ("The pass-along pain from school cuts," editorial, Sept. 13).

His inflammatory language, his questioning the integrity of locally elected school board members and this jiggering of facts to suit an agenda are tantamount to declaring war on our kids.

Minnesota balanced its grown-up state budget mess by ripping from the schoolchildren's piggy bank. (Only two states do this kind of aid shift, and California grabs only a fraction of what Minnesota does.)

To mitigate the effects of the shift, a deal was struck in the waning hours of the state shutdown that added $50 per student to help pay the interest incurred by school borrowing.

But to listen to Garofalo, schools are getting a windfall and are using operating levies to delude voters into stuffing school coffers.

How dare he question what we can see in front of our own eyes: Our kids' needs are not being met by the state, so the buck passes to us to beg our local taxpayers to provide a modicum of stability in the unstable funding world he and his colleagues have created.

Guess what? Parents don't like levies either -- not because we are "fleecing the taxpayer," but because we understand how this funding structure has created a Monopoly board of opportunities for children across Minnesota.

The idea that our school's funding is dependent on the cleverness of our levy campaigns is repellent, but it is the only avenue legislators have left us.

If that's not galling enough, Garofalo implies that he is the reason for the new funding "bonanza," when in fact the $50 was offered by Gov. Mark Dayton. The lion's share of additional money Garofalo's committee considered providing schools over the next biennium was funding redistributed from other school districts.

So much for the committee motto he proudly stated on his first day as chair: "Kids first, no excuses, no exceptions."

One wonders if Garofalo's colleagues have been hearing from constituents angry with the results of the legislation session, forcing him to make a case that schools have plenty of money.

This time Garofalo has gone too far. If war is what he wants, parents are ready for the battle. We're used to it after all the levy campaigns we've had to run.


The writer is executive director of Parents United for Public Schools.