I am glad that my fellow progressives care about public schools and don’t, instead, send their kids to Waynflete or some other private school, but being smart and pragmatic about funding is vitally important to the progressive agenda.

We should care about cost and efficiency when it enables us to expand on equity-based objectives. Seeking to save Portland many millions of dollars, by getting the state to fund the school renovations, was smart and progressive.

The money the city would have saved could have been used to address other progressive goals, such as creating more drug treatment to deal with our very dire opioid addiction crisis and expanding General Assistance rent and food assistance. (Gov. LePage cut state funding to General Assistance when Portland refused to make asylum-seekers and other noncitizens ineligible.)

It could also have been used to expand rent and mortgage assistance to not-so-poor residents to offset the effects of gentrification. Borrowing $64.3 million will cost the city around $100 million, once borrowing costs are factored in. It could lead to cuts in programs that poor and low-income Portlanders rely on or to increases to our property taxes, which risks causing our neighbors living on fixed or low incomes to not be able to afford their homes anymore.

There was a good chance we could have, instead, gotten the state to fund the renovations, returning some of the income tax revenues Portlanders pay to the state. Income taxes are more progressive than property and sales taxes, which means we lost the opportunity to use a fairer, more progressive funding scheme for the school renovations.

Lisa Morris

Portland