Quantifying the Trend Which Led to the 3050 Tax Cap Law

Why did the Rhode Island Senate Bill 3050 tax cap bill become the law of the land?
Because of this unsustainable economic trend:

…These [union] demands, as in past negotiations, have resulted in school spending – and therefore taxes – rising faster than the increases in the incomes of the working families and retirees who reside in East Greenwich and pay for the teachers’ salaries and benefits out of their incomes. This longstanding practice reduces the standard of living of the residents. As such, they cannot afford for the school department to continue these reckless spending habits from the past and the recent state legislation now requires us to cease these bad habits.
The School Committee is faced with the following choice, just like every family who has to live within its means: Either teachers’ salary and benefit costs are going to be reined in or educational programs and teachers’ jobs will have to be cut. We cannot afford to continue the gravy train ride of past years…

Recalling that teacher salary and benefits comprise just over 80% of the total school budget, here are some hard cold facts for East Greenwich which quantify the problem with the economics of today’s teachers’ union contracts:
From the June 11, 1997 Financial Town Meeting (PDF document) regarding the FY1997-1998 budget:

  • The town operating budget was $8,814, 281.
  • The school operating budget was $16,490,358.
  • The total operating budget was $25,304,639.

Fast forward to ten years later: From the June 12, 2007 Financial Town Meeting (PDF document) regarding the FY2007-2008 budget:

  • The town operating budget is $11,954,197.
  • The school operating budget is $30,889,947.
  • The total operating budget is $42,844,144.

In other words, over the last ten years:

  • The town operating budget increased 35.6% or 3.1%/year.
  • The school operating budget increased 87.3% or 6.5%/year.
  • The total town and school operating budget increased 69.3% or 5.4%/year.
  • The school budget went from being 65% of the total operating budget to 72% of the total operating budget.

These numbers show how the school budget has resulted in living beyond the means of taxpayers, the working families and retirees of East Greenwich. Driven by outrageous and unaffordable teachers’ union contract terms demanded by the unions and enabled by spineless politicians and bureaucrats.
And that is why 3050 became law in the state.
Ask your town officials to do the same analysis for your community.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
13 years ago

From the EG Chamber of Commerce:
Education
The School System
The East Greenwich School Department, directed by Mr. Charles Meyers, consists of six schools. There are four elementary schools, two for grades K-3 and two for grades 4-6. Grades 7 and 8 attend Cole Middle School and there is one comprehensive high school for grades 9-12. High school students interested in vocational education enroll in the Regional Vocation Center in the adjacent city of Warwick.
Realizing that quality education requires both commitment and resources, East Greenwich has been proud to have its school budget supported by town citizens. A new budget goes into effect each year in July.
The 2500 students are served by 300 certified and non-certified personnel. The class size maximum for grades K-3 is 21 students. The class size maximum for grades 4-6 is 26 students.
East Greenwich Public Schools are recognized for achievement and innovation in core academic subjects as well as areas such as the visual and performing arts, special education and a gifted and talented program for elementary students.
A variety of co-curricular activities are available for students in grades 7-12, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, performing arts activities, student publications and student government.
East Greenwich High School consistently ranks as one of the top schools in Rhode Island. One criteria contributing to this is the high achievement of students on the SAT college entrance examination. Ninety five percent of the high school class of 2006 enrolled in institutions of higher education, with 87% attending four year colleges.
Eldredge Elementary School and Cole Junior High are nationally recognized Blue Ribbon schools of excellence, achieving this honor in 1993 and 1989 respectively and Cole was also honored in 2004..

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

So then, Bob, we should increase the compensation of EG’s teachers, and lower the compensation of those in Providence, Central Falls, Johnston, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Newport, correct?
Or will you (finally) admit that your members’ “performance” merely coasts along with whatever favorable or unfavorable demographic happens to come in the door?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Bob’s point, apparently, is that while the parents quality of life continues to diminish under increased teacher benefits (unless they’re teachers, of course) the kids are getting a great education so they will be able to get good paying jobs in another state where the taxes are quite so oppressive.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

To repeat what I posted on a related thread yesterday:
And for you folks in East Greenwich, Barrington and Portsmouth that think you’re immune from teacher union mediocrity, the next paragraph of that article states:
“A survey released earlier this year comparing the performance of American students to students in 29 other countries found that the performance of American students was ‘broadly unsatisfactory.’ Out of 29 countries participating in a 2003 OECD assessment, America’s 15-year-olds ranked 24th in math; 24th in problem-solving; 18th in science; and 15th in reading.
“Lest anyone believe these results were skewed by the performance of a small number of struggling students, the test scores of the United States’ top students was equally poor when compared to the top students of other nations. America’s top math students rank 23rd out of 29 countries when compared with top students elsewhere in the world.”
http://education.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzNjM2Q1ZWU1YjA0NDE0MWExNGUxOGIzZDdkNmNkMWY=

Robert S.
Robert S.
13 years ago

Interesting fact to consider when commenting on America’s academic rating compared to other nations: American public schools educate students of all intellectual levels – thus reflected in the cumulative rankings. Many other nations only educate a select few, especially at the higher levels, thus altering the overall ranking. Test only the highest achieving students in America and then see where the rankings fall.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Robert, if that is true and I have no reason to believe it isn’t then it likely was always true. Which means that, while the bar has remained the same (competing against their best) we’ve continued to FALL in the rankings. This really can only be due to very few reasons and the easiest to believe is that our children aren’t being taught HOW TO THINK. Just WHAT to think.
Hence the current generation’s ability to instantly make change if you hand them a $5 for a 1.37 transaction.
Any of you that didn’t instinctively answer $3.63, please go punch you 5th grade teacher in the mouth.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Interesting fact to consider when commenting on America’s academic rating compared to other nations: American public schools educate students of all intellectual levels – thus reflected in the cumulative rankings. Many other nations only educate a select few, especially at the higher levels, thus altering the overall ranking. Test only the highest achieving students in America and then see where the rankings fall.
The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) is based in Paris, and its rankings are of the thirty most industrialized countries, such as in Europe, Japan, Korea, etc. Advanced countries which, I feel comfortable in assuming, have universal education.
As compared to those, U.S. high schoolers rank in the mid-twenties out of the thirty.
That’s the bottom third, for those of you who graduated from a public school in the last twenty years.

Thomas
Thomas
13 years ago

I have a question for Mr. Hawthorne:
What percentage of the increase in education costs for EG is a consequence of higher health care premiums? Given that these costs are up 78% in just 6 years nationally, I would think it is a substantial amount.
If so, shouldn’t part of this discussion be about controlling those costs? I don’t mean making teachers pay more of the costs, but about controlling the costs themselves?

Robert S.
Robert S.
13 years ago

“The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) is based in Paris, and its rankings are of the thirty most industrialized countries, such as in Europe, Japan, Korea, etc. Advanced countries which, I feel comfortable in assuming, have universal education.”
One should not “feel comfortable in assuming”…although on this blog it is common practice.
I would encourage you to examine the numbers of students in many of those nations who do not attend high school and are “steered” in a different direction or are required to attend programs that are not college prep.
Also, I find it amusing that many on this blog seem to think that private schools offer students such a superior education. I would encourage you to spend time at both private and public schools in the state before making such an insulting statement. Also, if the individuals on this blog feel that test scores are the way to measure academic success, it is interesting to consider the fact that private schools in this state do not necessarily require students to take the NECAP and other required public tess. Are you so certain that the children who attend these schools are getting a superior education…or is the data simply not there to tear the system apart.
I do believe that education system in this country must to be reformed – it needs to evolve to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century – and it is falling short. However, attacking the educators, who are the ones willing to teach our children, is clearly not the way to inspire productive change. Revising curriculum, funding focused, proven initiatives, and inspiring, not deterring, intelligent individuals to enter the teaching profession will create vast improvements in our nation’s educational system.

ricky
ricky
13 years ago

A little late but my two cents regarding Mr. Hawthornes comments on Bill 3050.
While not disputing your facts that over the past ten years, E.G.’s municipal operating budget increased 3.1% per year and the School Dept. budget increased 6.5% per year, I do question your assertion that it’s because of the teachers union contracts.
In your misguided rant you totally overlooked, or ignored one of the greatest reasons of spiraling educational costs, UNFUNDED STATE AND LOCAL MANDATES. How can any school system, or any business for that fact, live within their budgets when once it has been foremalized an outside mandate demands you spend x amount of dollars that were not budgeted for in the first place.
The municipal side of local government does not have this to contend with in their budget. If they have any unforseen expenses pop up it’s handled but a capitol improvement fund, rainy day fund or built in overtime, ( which usually is a line item for police, highway and fire depts.).

ricky
ricky
13 years ago

A little late but my two cents regarding Mr. Hawthornes comments on Bill 3050.
While not disputing your facts that over the past ten years, E.G.’s municipal operating budget increased 3.1% per year and the School Dept. budget increased 6.5% per year, I do question your assertion that it’s because of the teachers union contracts.
In your misguided rant you totally overlooked, or ignored one of the greatest reasons of spiraling educational costs, UNFUNDED STATE AND LOCAL MANDATES. How can any school system, or any business for that fact, live within their budgets when once it has been foremalized an outside mandate demands you spend x amount of dollars that were not budgeted for in the first place.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.