Opinion

Olmsted: Focusing on schools and taxes

2018 ENDORSEMENTS ARTICLES

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I’m a retired economics professor, and not a conventional politician.

For one thing, I’m 66 and have never run for office. I’m not looking for a career here. For another, I’m a quiet, shy math geek, and there’s a critical shortage of quiet, shy math geeks in politics.

For those of you who are longtime Democrats, we have something in common: I was a Democrat for a long time. I voted for Walter Mondale. A lot of things have changed since then, of course. The world has changed, I’ve changed, and, most of all, Democrats have changed, and I just couldn’t keep up. So, if you look at how far Democrats have moved to the left, and wonder whether keeping up is worth the effort, it’s not.

If you elect me to represent you, I’ll concentrate on improving schools and fixing state income tax.

Doesn’t everyone want to improve the schools? Not precisely. Everyone (including me) wants to spend more money on the schools, but not everyone admits there’s a difference between spending more money and getting better results. The key to getting better results is accountability.

Most businesses, for example, need to attract customers and keep them happy. If they don’t, they go out of business. That’s accountability. School districts, on the other hand, are less accountable. If customers aren’t happy, after all, they still have to pay taxes (Special bonus question: What kinds of schools need to attract customers and keep them happy? Charter and private schools).

OK, but didn’t we just fix the state income tax? We tried. Broadening the tax base and reducing rates was a good idea. Leaving decisions about business tax credits for later was not a good idea. Adopting major tax cuts that may or may not take effect four years from now was a terrible idea.

It’s not over, of course. It seems obvious the law will be revisited, and substantially changed, in the next few years. Possibly more than once. If you like, I’ll be glad to work on it for you.

You can learn more about me at my website, www.olmstedforiowa.com.

• George Olmsted is the Republican candidate in Iowa House District 65.

All candidate guest columns in House District 65:

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George Olmsted

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