SB 693: Buckle Up!

Students of politics may study this short piece of legislation in the future.  It’s a new tactic in the covert warfare between state and local politicians.

The politicians at the state level sometimes pass laws that require the locals to bear the financial burden. The locals complain of “unfunded mandates.”

SB 693 is not exactly an unfunded mandate. It’s more clever than that.  It’s a “pass the shame” mandate.  It’s all about seat belts on the buses.  The law says that if a district buys a model 2018 bus (or later), the bus has to have seat belts, unless the local board holds a public meeting and officially votes not to do so due to budgetary constraints.

Senator Throttlebottom and his colleagues under the capitol dome will self-righteously declare that this is not an unfunded mandate. After all, if the local board does not have the money for this, all they have to do is say so.  Which is true. But the bill cynically makes the local politicians face the music on this. The hard choice is left to the locals.  The board has to publicly announce that it doesn’t have the money for seatbelts on the buses, which will raise the ire of taxpayers with every subsequent expenditure.

You can hear it now: board members are going to a convention?  And they couldn’t afford seatbelts?  New band uniforms?  And they couldn’t afford seatbelts?  Pay raise for the superintendent? And they couldn’t afford to protect the safety of the children on the bus?

It’s cynical. It’s clever. And it will work.  It will get seat belts on the bus….at local expense.


Have a good weekend, folks. Start of school is getting close!