It took him long enough, but Karl Dean finally figured out that he could make political hay out of this week's Metro Council budget escapades. In a news release this afternoon, Dean criticizes the council—which includes three of his rivals in the mayoral campaign—for effectively cutting $4.4 million from public schools and more than $200,000 from the police department in next year's budget.
"There will always be hard budgetary decisions to be made," Dean says. "Faced with those tough decisions, I have made my priorities clear. I am committed to funding public schools and public safety above all else."
Dean points out that Metro got an additional $6 million from the state for school funding this year, but the council voted to cut almost that much from the school budget.
"Adequate funding is a large part of making the improvements we need in our middle and high schools. Lobbying the state for more funds next year is going to be that much more difficult because we have shown that we're not willing to put that money where it's needed and where we said it would go," Dean said.
Of course, that's easy for Dean to say. He's not on the council and didn't have to make any of those "hard budgetary decisions." In his news release, he didn't say what he would have voted to cut instead.
"Our police and firefighters deserve their step pay increases, and I am pleased those raises were included in the budget. However, I would have found another way to pay for them other than taking funds from our schools."