Author Topic: State budget battles  (Read 14654 times)

jpetty

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2011, 05:21:57 PM »
The current WI legislature and governor were clear in the political campaign about what they were going to do.  They were elected by a majority of the voters.  Why should anyone expect the elected officials to do anything less than they were elected to do?  There will be another election.  
Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

Can you point us to a campaign speech, statement, position description, or anything else issued by Gov. Walker during his campaign that made it clear to the people that he intended to take collective bargaining away? 

To your very exacting point on this one single issue, no I cannot.   Taking away collective bargaining except for salaries, he sees as a means to his clearly identified ends.  The ends that candidate Walker clearly spoke to was reforming government and drastically reducing spending. There are commentators and Gov. Walker himself who declare that this outcome was entirely predictable given his views on reform and spending.   

For instance, Minneapolis Mayor Ryback was clear he would increase taxes before meaningful budget cuts.  Yet my neighbors were greatly surprised by the double digit increases this year in their property taxes including many over 20% in the very poorest of neighborhoods.  They did not believe taxes would go up that much.  But given the work I did on political campaigns in the fall of 2009, it was entirely predictable.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

To answer the question, no, Gov. Walker said nothing about ending collective bargaining.  What he did do, however, was promptly give his fat cat friends $137,000,000 of tax relief, then claims the state has a $117,000,000 deficit which he wants to get by cutting pay for state workers.

Incidentally, the union has already agreed to pay and benefit cuts.  This is completely about collective bargaining.

Pr. Luke Zimmerman

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 224
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
    • View Profile
    • Minister of Mechanicsburg
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2011, 05:44:50 PM »
This problem cannot be resolved by the church. It will be resolved democratically which probably means some kind of compromise, ultimately.

The pastor's task is to call Christian on both sides to maintain their bond of communion, in spite of differing political preferences. Finally, our bond is not political.


Peace, JOHN

I have to agree with Pr. Hannah. The problem cannot be resolved by the Church; it will be resolved democratically. The bond between Christians is not temporal, but eternally rooted in our Christ-given identities.

Something that I believe the Church could do is to speak publicly to the legislators who have fled the state, calling them to return and to do their duty as elected officials. As we Lutherans understand the Fourth Commandment, the Church can proclaim that these legislators have been delegated authority from God through the electorate to rule. This authority was not forcibly delegated to them; these legislators actively sought that authority by standing for election. By leaving the state, these legislators cannot fulfill the role that has been given them. If they will not return, then they should resign and let someone else take up the duties of being government officials.

Similarly, the governor can be spoken to by the Church to fulfill his duty. He is to provide for the security of the state. Should that security be threatened by uprising, he must curb the uprising. He also is to help provide for the temporal welfare of his citizens. The Church can urge him to explain to the citizenry how his budget plan does that. The governor is also to punish the evil. If the recipients of tax benefits have not been virtuous, then rewarding them tax cuts would seem antithetical to punishing evil.

Basically, the theological statements that the Church gives must be limited to addressing the duties and responsibilities of rulers and citizens. Beyond that, where the matter is temporal and needs to be decided on logic, reason, and sense, the Church doesn't have much to say. No matter the issue, the Church should always pray for wisdom and virtue to be given to those who hold and exercise temporal authority. Perhaps including a specific petition in the Prayer of the Church for that during the next several Sundays would be appropriate for our fellow clergy in Wisconsin to do.
Pr. Luke Zimmerman
Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Mechanicsburg, PA

MaddogLutheran

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 3502
  • It's my fantasy football avatar...
    • View Profile
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2011, 05:59:32 PM »
To answer the question, no, Gov. Walker said nothing about ending collective bargaining.  What he did do, however, was promptly give his fat cat friends $137,000,000 of tax relief, then claims the state has a $117,000,000 deficit which he wants to get by cutting pay for state workers.

Incidentally, the union has already agreed to pay and benefit cuts.  This is completely about collective bargaining.
I'd ask you to provide some authoritative source for your "fat cat" allegation.  I've heard this "talking point" out there, but touted and refuted, and have had a hard time finding the truth.  There is a structural problem with future worker benefits that exceeds whatever current shortfall the state is experiencing, which is unsustainable.

I couldn't say whether the governor campaigned on it, but you are right about it being completely about collective bargaining now.  There is a method to the governor's madness, because I believe he recognizes that the state got to the point of needing pay/benefit cuts because of a broken process resulting from these particular state workers having collective bargaining rights.  The problem, succinctly, is that these unions use their members dues to advocate for the election of candidates which are friendly (or beholden) to the union, so that next time these elected officials are in the majority/governor's mansion, they will likely not drive as hard a bargain with the unions.  Now it's certainly possible that in this future collective bargaining rights are restored, but that would be a two step process and perhaps a higher hurdle.

I can understand the need for unions in such "dangerous" industries as steel or coal mining (certainly in the 19th/20th centuries, as my great grandfather died in a foundry accident), but I have a hard time believing that our democratic governments are very likely to mistreat/underpay government employees.  As others have noted above, even FDR was not in favor of collective bargaining for government workers, as the circumstances and balance of power is different than in the private sector.  Government has an obligation to fairness through representation that the private sector, motivated by profit alone, does not, as well as that fact that government can't "go out of business" if workers demand too much.  (Yes, I know, governments can go out of business, but that's a messy scenario I'd rather not contemplate.)

As this topic here has shown, this discussion generates more heat than light.

Sterling Spatz
CORRECTED: my embarrassing misspelling in my last sentence, which unfortunately (or not) was quoted by Brian Bergs below...
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 06:57:41 PM by MaddogLutheran »
Sterling Spatz
ELCA pew-sitter

George Erdner

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2011, 06:20:10 PM »
To answer the question, no, Gov. Walker said nothing about ending collective bargaining.  What he did do, however, was promptly give his fat cat friends $137,000,000 of tax relief, then claims the state has a $117,000,000 deficit which he wants to get by cutting pay for state workers.


Please, I know you live in the ivory tower, but in the real world, "fat cats" never, ever pay any taxes. They collect taxes from consumers. Sure, there is a fiction played out in which everyone pretends that companies don't raise their prices to cover their tax liabilities. It makes people feel good to think that the evil "fat cats" are paying the taxes, when in reality, it the folks in the proletariat who pay the money to the fat cats for the fat cats to pass along to the government.

I'm sure it makes you liberals feel good inside to know that instead of your money being stolen by the government directly, it is stolen from you secretly through higher prices and then given to the government by those who stole it through higher prices. I wish I could be so simple-minded that I could pretend that I didn't pay rich folks' taxes through higher prices.

I will acknowledge that there are some advantages for states to give local businesses tax breaks to help them gain an advantage over their counterparts in another state. I've been working a bit lately for companies that have come to Georgia to take advantage of tax breaks, at the expense of states like California and Florida. But, what Georgia loses in taxes paid by the companies, they more than get back by the extra taxes we workers pay because we are getting paychecks. It doesn't do the people of California or Florida any good, but then, I don't live in California or Florida.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 06:25:59 PM by George Erdner »

Bergs

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1328
  • Battle for truth, justice & the American way
    • View Profile
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #34 on: March 01, 2011, 06:27:24 PM »
As this topic hear as shown, this discussion generates more heat than light.

Sterling Spatz

Agreed which is why it is only of interest in the official and unofficial synod responses or lack thereof.  We can argue political talking points all day.  Each side has them.  It's not just Wisconsin either, virtually all states are facing these budget problems. 

This a way more heat than light discussion as the name calling easily proves.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10440
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2011, 08:34:29 PM »
When I came to St. Paul's I told the congregation I would not preach politics and I have not.  I would only do if there was a clear disconnect between something and Scripture.  To say that there is a moral imperative involving a political dispute over whether or not school teachers (who, btw, are not underpaid for what they do) and other state workers should contribute to their own retirements and health insurance is in my opinion crazy.  That's why there are ballot boxes.

Last night I was teaching a class on 1 Corinthians and discussing Paul's statement that he came among them determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  That's the gosple and that's what we are here to proclaim on Sunday morning and any other time we can get a few people to listen to us.

I always love it (absolutely not) when people say teachers are not underpaid.  That's like those people who say pastor's scale is way out of whack, and pay him 54 % of it.

My wife is a teacher, has been one for 22 years, in both the public and private system.  Her normal work has been like this. Day starts about 6 - prepping for the day. School starts 830 - but she is expected to be there - "on duty" at 0800.  She gets 25 minutes for lunch, no prep periods, and the school day is officially over at 2:55.  She is "on duty" until 4:00, but usually leaves school around 6.  A little time off to make dinner, and then grading, doing research about her IEP's, lesson plans, etc until 10:00. 

Christmas Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, is usually spent planning.9 weeks off in the summer - often spent doing continuing ed, and prepping the classroom for the next year, studying files, etc.

We worked out the number one year - it worked out to roughly 9 dollars an hour.  When in the public sector, that's not counting the donation to the union funds - which a percentage of which are mandatory, but everyone knows that if you don't give the full amount, it is hazardous to your career.   Now - considering she averaged 32 students per class - (high of 41) and that the district received anywhere form 8-13,000 per student - the wasted expenses is somewhere besides being in her pocket.


Careful now. When I opined some months back that my public school teacher wife works harder than I do and for less money, I got taken to task by some who think that pastors do, or should, work harder than almost anybody else.  ;)
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

swbohler

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2011, 09:25:19 PM »
Well, Rev. Johnson, since you brought it up....

$9/hour?  Really?  The average teacher salary here in Minnesota is $43,000/year. I believe you live in California, J & S.  I find it hard to believe that CA teachers make less than MN teachers.  But let's just say it's the same and that you are using only the salary (and not the benefits) in your calculations.  $43000 divided by $9/hour = 4778 hours/year.  Even if your wife worked all 52 weeks of the year (with no vacations, holidays, or personal days), that comes to 92 hours per week.  Or better than 13 hours/day, 365 days a year.  I find that hard to believe.....

So let's drop it down to $30000/year (about what a first year teacher makes here in far NW Minnesota).  30000 divided by 9 = 3333 hours/year.  Again, if she worked all 52 weeks of the year (with no days off), that comes to 64 hours/week.  That's possible -- IF she worked all 52 weeks of the year, with no days off.  But if you figure she doesn't teach in the summer, and recalculate accordingly: 30000 divided by 9 = 3333 hours/year.  3333 divided by 40 weeks (12 weeks off for summer and other holidays) = 83 hours/week.  That would be about 12 hours/day, 7 days a week for those 40 weeks.  Again, I find that hard to believe.

And once you add in the cost of benefits, it gets even harder.

George Erdner

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2011, 09:52:39 PM »
$9/hour?  Really?  The average teacher salary here in Minnesota is $43,000/year.

The thing is, if compensation is based on collective bargaining, then all of the average teachers of a certain number of years seniority make $43,000 a year. All of the superior teachers of the same number of years seniority make $43,000 per year. All of the inferior teachers with the same amount of seniority make $43,000 a year. If a superior teacher works extra hard and puts forth an extra effort and improves their performance in teaching, if they have the same amount of seniority, then they make $43,000 per year.

Which happens to be pretty much the same way that fork lift operators and garbage men are compensated.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 12:16:39 AM by George Erdner »

pr dtp

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2011, 12:44:43 AM »
$9/hour?  Really?  The average teacher salary here in Minnesota is $43,000/year.

The thing is, if compensation is based on collective bargaining, then all of the average teachers of a certain number of years seniority make $43,000 a year. All of the superior teachers of the same number of years seniority make $43,000 per year. All of the inferior teachers with the same amount of seniority make $43,000 a year. If a superior teacher works extra hard and puts forth an extra effort and improves their performance in teaching, if they have the same amount of seniority, then they make $43,000 per year.

Which happens to be pretty much the same way that fork lift operators and garbage men are compensated.



12 hours a day, plus 5 on saturday and sunday = 70 hours a week.  Time and a half for anything over 40, so figure it at 85 hours at straight time.  You have to report 2 weeks before the school year starts, and one week after.  Tis isn't counting required courses to maintain credentials - and that most people get 2-4 weeks paid vacation.   So let's call it 48 weeks of the year.

43000/48/85 = 10.53


We did tis back in the early 90's - when the average salary was less than that.

@ George
Your forklift operator takes a 6 week course - a sanitation worker - 2 weeks?  A teacher requires a BA plus 24 unites of credential master's level courses.  I don't know about PA - but here in california both make equitable salaries to teachers.  That teacher's work - in a 35 student classroom - brings their district 350K in income in California, if not significantly more. 

Yet there are bureaucratic employees at city, county, region and state level, consultants and experts.  Strip the beauracrats out - reduce the classroom size - and there still would be enough money for some nice classrooms - instead of modular buildings that are used 2-3 times their lifecycle.




Robert Johnson

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
    • View Profile
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2011, 01:15:07 AM »
12 hours a day, plus 5 on saturday and sunday = 70 hours a week.

My wife works in our local high school as an aide for special education students.  Every week she has to cover for some teacher or another who has blown off their responsibilities to her students and has not prepared any material for them.  (This *is* part of their job.)  Nothing happens to the teachers who fail to perform.  She has also spent many hours in class with her students watching movies as a substitute for actual education (the movies are not educational; they are just ways to pass the time).

Good teachers are underpaid.  Bad teachers are overpaid, but cannot be fired and they make just as much as good teachers. 

Karl Hess

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2011, 02:31:42 AM »
Thanks for raising this question, Peter.  I always feel a little disgusted with myself as a preacher because I so seldom address economic issues in preaching the law.  Luther did frequently.  But the problem for me is the issues are often so complex that it's hard to know what the definitive answer is for a Christian.  It seems obvious that a worker should be paid a wage on which he can live and feed his family, but even that is complicated in a society in which the definition of "family" is up for grabs and in which we have given up the idea that husband should provide for the entire family.

My mother is a retired public school teacher and my sister currently teaches high school English.  It's difficult to imagine a more frustrating job.  You go into it wanting to teach literature and then find out that the majority of your work involves maintaining order in a classroom with students who often have no pressure from their parents to learn anything and in which you are likely to be reprimanded for sending too many students to the dean or for failing to show sufficient cultural sensitivity.  I listen to NPR on the way into work and regularly hear about the failing Chicago school system and how the solution is more money to hire better teachers.  How can a teacher teach without parents who support them, or with parents whose response to their children's failure is to come in and holler at the teacher?  I can't imagine how any public school is going to succeed, good teachers or bad, without parents taking responsibility for insisting that their children apply themselves.

At any rate, I'm pretty certain I won't have to worry about addressing this issue any time soon, since I live in Illinois.  They just raised our taxes rather than make any significant budget cuts.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #41 on: March 02, 2011, 05:42:15 AM »
Robert Johnson writes:
Bad teachers are overpaid, but cannot be fired and they make just as much as good teachers.  

I comment:
A vast overstatement. "Bad" teachers quite often do not get tenure (in systems where that is granted.) "Bad" teachers do get fired (or do not have their contracts renewed). I have seen it happen many times as I covered school boards in New Jersey. And New Jersey has one of the strongest teachers' unions in the country. Teachers' unions don't want "bad" teachers in the profession, either. What good would that do them?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 05:44:01 AM by Charles_Austin »

George Erdner

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2011, 08:37:06 AM »
@ George
Your forklift operator takes a 6 week course - a sanitation worker - 2 weeks?  A teacher requires a BA plus 24 unites of credential master's level courses.  I don't know about PA - but here in california both make equitable salaries to teachers.  That teacher's work - in a 35 student classroom - brings their district 350K in income in California, if not significantly more. 



Totally irrelevant. I'm not saying that teachers deserve the same amount of money as a fork list operator or a garbage collector. I'm saying that it makes no sense that professionals like teachers should all make identical, collectively bargained compensation with any variations based only on number of years on the job. At a large warehouse operation, there might be 100 forklift operators working. They are, from a management perspective, pretty much identical and interchangeable parts in the operation, which is why they are compensated identically. In a school district with 100 teachers, each one should be compensated with an amount that is appropriate for the quality and quantity of their work output. The teachers should be treated as 100 separate, discrete, unique professionals -- not as 100 identical and interchangeable parts.

As for the quantity of their compensation, I do not dispute that those at the top of any performance scale deserve high compensation. I will dispute that those at the bottom deserve high compensation as well just because they have the same job title. 

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2011, 09:13:43 AM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
In a school district with 100 teachers, each one should be compensated with an amount that is appropriate for the quality and quantity of their work output. The teachers should be treated as 100 separate, discrete, unique professionals -- not as 100 identical and interchangeable parts.

I comment:
You have obviously never had any serious contact with schools, principals, teachers, superintendents or school boards. And tens of thousands of our school districts have thousands of teachers. How's life in your ivory tower?

George Erdner

  • Guest
Re: State budget battles
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2011, 09:34:20 AM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
In a school district with 100 teachers, each one should be compensated with an amount that is appropriate for the quality and quantity of their work output. The teachers should be treated as 100 separate, discrete, unique professionals -- not as 100 identical and interchangeable parts.

I comment:
You have obviously never had any serious contact with schools, principals, teachers, superintendents or school boards. And tens of thousands of our school districts have thousands of teachers. How's life in your ivory tower?

And you have obviously never had any serious contact with the private sector or corporate world, despite your claims to the contrary, or you could not have made that statement. I have had plenty of experience in the corporate world, working in companies that had thousands or even tens of thousands of employees, all individually and all without collective bargaining. In he corporate world, even when there are tens of thousands of employees, there is a organizational chart with layers of management, with annual or semi-annual performance reviews handled by each individuals immediate supervisor. If a school district has 2000 teachers, chances are they are divided up amongst multiple school buildings, each with a management staff of Principal, Assistant Principals, etc. And, if each school is managed according to sound, private-sector business practices, the teachers will be divided by specialty into departments with each department having a leader who carries out supervisory duties.

In a School District with 10,000 employees that operates using standard, private sector management principles, several hundred of those teachers would be group leaders and supervisors who are responsible for the teachers who reported to them. There would be an appropriate number of managers and assistant managers to whom multiple group leaders and supervisors would report to, and another layer or two of management about them.

If a school district chooses to attempt to function without appropriate layers of management operating in the manner that has been proven effective in the private sector, then the problem is not that school districts must simply throw up their hands in despair and embrace socialistic collective bargaining. The problem is that the school districts need to learn to use the proven principles of large group management that has been demonstrated to be highly effective in the corporate world.