It used to be that when school officials increased spending on technology, it was because they had talked with the people who paid the bills, i.e. local taxpayers and local elected representatives. Prior to making any changes to the budget, these officials openly considered budget priorities, such as the need for books, building improvements, teachers, transportation, extracurricular activities and other concerns, and then reached a decision that balanced these diverse priorities. This is not the way it works anymore. Things changed in 1996 when Congress and then-President Clinton agreed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal regulator of telecommunications and broadcasting, should also be in charge of subsidizing schools’ and libraries’ communications services, most notably the Internet. The FCC would do so by collecting money from telecommunications customers and giving it to schools and libraries.
Read “The FCC’s powers of taxation: A signal of bad governance” on AEI.