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Do you remember "Lost in Space?" The Robinson family had a robot with a danger sensor. When trouble was brewing it would shriek out "Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!" This would give the main characters a chance to prepare for what ever threat was presented.

There is a dangerous policy decision approaching Maryland just over the horizon. The powers that be in Annapolis are so convinced that they know how to spend taxpayer dollars for everyone that they're talking about universal, mandatory pre-kindergarten. There's another name for this program. The more descriptive phrase would be subsidized day care at taxpayer expense.

Carroll County Public Schools currently serves pre-kindergarten students on a targeted basis. The services are important, and the people staffing them are doing great work. The program is directed on criteria of need. The proposal from Annapolis represents a needless expansion of government power and spending.

Unfortunately, the majority party leadership in the General Assembly is not content to let counties make their own choices regarding pre-kindergarten.

It may not happen during next year's legislative term, but it's only a matter of time before these officials in Annapolis try to dictate from on high that all counties provide mandatory pre-kindergarten instruction.

There's no need to expand this service. There's no money to provide this service. There are no buildings to house this service.

Such practical constraints often escape the power elites in the General Assembly. Their solution is often to raise taxes -- as we observed in the special session of two years ago. Their solution is to promise certain funding streams only to cut funding when revenues shrink either due to the economy or due to poor policy decisions literally driving the tax base out of the state.

The millionaires' income tax hike of the special session did exactly that. Hyper regulation of business does exactly that. Jacking up the sales take does exactly that. Elected officials at any level would do well to steer clear of suggestions that mandatory pre-kindergarten would be just fine -- so long as the state pays for it and not the county. Such an appeasement approach is a huge mistake on multiple levels.

First, there's no reason to concede the point that such an expansion of spending and encroachment of power is valid. Secondly, just because Annapolis promises certain funding doesn't mean that they will fulfill the promise.

How many times have we all observed promises made by various forces and promises broken by the same individuals on multiple occasions?

The promise of Thornton funding would be an excellent case in point. What history demonstrates is a strong funding increase under one governor and an absolute retreat by the next governor.

Now is the time for elected officials at the Board of Education, our Delegation, and the Board of County Commissioners to speak in a unified and clear voice. We do not need mandatory pre-kindergarten. We do not want mandatory pre-kindergarten.

Michael Zimmer is secretary of the Board of County Commissioners. Each month in The Eagle, one of the three commissioners has the opportunity to discuss any issue or topic of interest in this space.


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