Early this week, County Commissioner Kevin Wolff and state Rep. Lyle Larson sent a letter to Mayor Julian Castro questioning the City’s authority to develop, fund and run Castro’s much-heralded pre-K initiative.
The City plans to fund that initiative – baptized Pre-K 4 SA for the GOTV campaign – with a combination of public-school dollars, capital-improvement funds, and an 1/8-cent increase in the sales tax that voters will be asked to approve in November. City Council is expected to call the sales-tax election, and sign off on the program’s architecture, at its August 9 meeting.
Wolff and Larson's letter suggests that using the sales tax to fund Pre-K 4 SA is essentially a workaround that gives the City leeway to get into education even though the City charter doesn't really support that power. Castro and City Attorney Michael Bernard quickly shot back in the daily. Bernard's quote: “As a home-rule municipality, the city of San Antonio has not only the power but the duty to provide for the interest and welfare of the members of our community ... "
But the headline-grabbing argument is really a way of raising thornier issues of representation, taxation, and the proper role of municipal government. Incidentally, Wolff and Larson might have a better use for the money.