In a commentary in todays Journal Times, Laura Sumner Coon, former city editor at the JT, implores our elected officials to "work together across party lines to make Racine County a place where all can enjoy life, liberty and happiness." Coon remembers the days, twenty years ago, when our politicians did just that.
Coon lists four areas that our politicians should address. The first area concerns children. One-third of the children in Racine are poor. And our schools are failing to educate them. Coon includes many of the dismal statistics from RUSD. But we must not point to property taxes as the problem, as "RUSD ranks 47 out of 50 in the proportion of property tax that pays for education."
The second concern is economic development. Racine has 9% unemployment. While we have captured some Chicago wealth, we have not retained it. Coon sites a a Public Policy forum that noted "each year, beginning in 1994, Southeast Wisconsin has lost at least $100 million to other regions."
And then there is crime. Racine has as many murders as the national average, 62% more robberies, and 20% more property crimes.
And then taxes. We are not taxed enough apparently. "The average Racine County homeowner paid less than $3,000 in 2006 property taxes, making it one of the lowest property tax-paying areas of the state."
Ok, so there are the issues. We have poor children poorly educated, too much unemployment, we are hemmoraging cash, the crime rate is high, and our taxes are too low.
Coon recalls fondly the days of politicians of yesteryear doing the business of the people. But for as long as I can remember, Racine has been run by Democrats, not Republicans. And now she wants bipartisan solutions to our problems, so long as we all acknowledge how low our taxes are.
Sorry Ms. Coon, but Racine's problems can be traced to decades of liberalism. We have long been known as a destination for welfare recipients. Our high unemployment rate can easily be explained. Why work when others will take care of you? Tax the hell out of the businesses, strengthen the hands of the unions, etc... Sounds good to some I am sure, but then what happens? The wealth leaves, and this would explain the cash flow out of southeast Wisconsin. And the crime? Well, people not working, sucking the life out of a city, are also the types to commit crimes. And the liberals in our midst would prefer to blame this problem on society. So they will do all they can to embrace our criminals. And low tax amounts on property. That is because the property is not worth much. Much has been left to decay. Owners have fled the city. Landlords move in. So do criminals. It is a vicious cycle that the left has created here in Racine. There is not a bipartisan solution. The answer is not higher taxes as you suggest. We have tried that for years. Has it worked? No it hasn't. The answer is lower taxes, free market innovations like school vouchers, a friendly business environment, and a lower tolerance for crime. I don't think any Democrats would embrace any of the solutions to the problems that they created.