By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
It is rare when I go 24 hours without looking at a political poll.
Whether it is the presidential approval ratings or how much of a chance Republicans have to take the Senate in November, I watch the polls like a beach bum watches the tide roll in and out.
The only polls I can recall that have been outright wrong were the exit polls after the Bush-Gore election in 2000.
Exit polling had Al Gore winning Virginia and dominating in Florida. In the end, Bush won Virginia and squeaked out a victory in Florida by a hanging chad or two.
Other than that, polls are usually very reliable.
Over the weekend, a poll was conducted in Liberal to see where the registered voters were on the upcoming bond election.
The data was somewhat surprising.
Liberal is a tough place to pass a bond, and the data indicated that by a margin of two to one, voters were in support.
Still, there was a large number of undecided voters with two weeks remaining until election day that have yet to make up their minds.
I can’t blame them.
This is a big decision, and making sure it is the right thing to do is never easy.
It’s a lot of money, and there are always doubts.
Late last week, I visited with some folks on Facebook about the bond issue, and there were a number of ‘if’ questions.
While the undecideds may want some comfort by having all of their ‘ifs’ answered, the fact is there simply is no way to answer everything.
There is always an ‘if.’
Some of the ‘ifs’ I have heard include, “What if National Beef closes?” “What if the district can’t sell McDermott or Washington?”
But for as many ‘ifs’ as there are that would cause hesitation in supporting the bond, I would also ask the undecideds to consider the ‘ifs’ of not supporting it.
They sound something like this, “What if the bond fails? How do we handle the overcrowding and portables?” “What if we vote no and the state matching funds go away before another bond is proposed?”
For those yet to decide, there are just as many concerns for voting no as there are for voting yes.
Which will cost more, voting no or voting yes?
The kids have to go into a class of some kind, and without a bond the district will have to raise the local mill levy just to create temporary solutions, like more portables.
The difference is that there will be no state matching funds or sales tax support like this bond provides.
The other issue is spending more money on a temporary fix is not the best use of money.
It’s like having a hole in your gas tank. You can either keep buying gas even though it is leaking, or you can replace the gas tank. While it may seem more expensive to replace the tank, over the long term you will save much more at the pump by no longer alowing the gas to trickle out.
It always seems like we are saving money, but all we are doing is spending the money on filling the tank only to watch the taxpayer’s dollars pour out a hole.
That’s what this choice comes down to for the undecided voters. Do we end up with a tax increase to fill the leaky tank, or do we replace the tank? It’s going to cost us something either way, but what is the right way to fix the problem?
Saying yes–yes is hard. Paying $36 million over 25 years is a lot, even though we receive $91 million from other sources.
And there will always be ifs with any plan.
The founders weren’t real happy when they met for the final vote to support the Constitution. Many planned on voting against it.
But it took the senior statesman from Pennsylvania who said, “Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good.”
In short, Franklin had objections, but he put them aside because he saw the greater good being served, and he wasn’t sure they could have created anything better.
Following his words, the Constitution was ratified.
This may not rise to that level, but I make the same request to those who have yet to make a decision. I ask you to not look for fault but to seek the public good that is in this plan, and while it could have been addressed in many different ways, no one can be sure that this plan is not the best.
So I ask the undecideds to make the hard decision in taking a step that moves Liberal forward. I ask those who have diligently weighed all the facts to consider which decision will accomplish the most for the least.
Finally, I ask the unsures to consider that the only sure thing is that a no vote is still a tax increase, only without support and most likely higher over time.
It’s normal to question any plan. I thank you for your caution. I trust your judgement.