Living for the Public Worker

Chris Powell’s description of the public sector in Connecticut sounds very familiar:

With its law requiring binding arbitration of public employee union contracts, state government has established an elaborate mechanism of disconnecting the compensation of public employees from democracy, the public’s ability to pay, and even any discussion in politics. Since that compensation totals about half of all state and municipal government spending combined, reconnecting it to those things is the great challenge facing state government.
If, because of the recession and the sharp curtailment of the public’s income, government has to economize, and if public-employee compensation constitutes about half of government spending, then exempting that compensation from the economizing forces all the economizing onto the remaining half of the budget, and public services are devastated so that public employees may avoid sacrifice. This is what has been happening at the municipal level, with services being liquidated to finance ever-increasing compensation for town employees. It’s not that towns have cut spending. It is that their tax bases have not grown enough to sustain services and to increase town employee compensation. So services formerly considered basic, like school sports and extracurricular activities, have been eliminated so that raises can still be paid.

One need only look to the results of arbitration in East Providence to see the mechanism in action. Even with the numbers laid before him, and an understanding that economic reality is likely to worsen before improving, the arbitrator still presented his proposal to advance teachers’ remunerative goals as a compromise.
Luckily such “arbitration” is not binding, in Rhode Island, but our deeper and longer-term stagnation more than make up the necessary difference toward draining our public coffers of funds for much beyond employing people.

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David
David
12 years ago

Chris Powell says, ‘So services formerly considered basic, like school sports and extracurricular activities, have been eliminated so that raises can still be paid.’
Yeah. What’s wrong with that? School sports and other activities that involve a small minority of the school population have lived off funds that are no longer there. I am sure that the committed people in sports and arts will do what they feel they need to do.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

“in Rhode Island, but our deeper and longer-term stagnation more than make up the necessary difference toward draining our public coffers of funds for much beyond employing people.”
You think that’s the problem?
Nah, the real problem is that taxes are too low. Look for the Economic Growth and Fairness Act of 2009.
Will be good for a few laughs anyway.
Serioulsy though-the people voted for the More New Taxes party-that is exactly what they deserve. When openly Communist garbage like Handy, Levesque, Rice, Fairy, Sullivan, etc. get elected from SUBURBAN districts it is difficult to sympathise with the fools. Raise the income tax to 100%. That’s as “progressive” as you can get-see how that works.
It’s going to get a whole lot worse. I give anyone young enough, who has the means, my Amityville Horror advice:
GET OUT!!!!!!

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
12 years ago

So you think that there’s a problem with this? – Bob Walsh
F-you all, we got ours! – Pat Crowley
It’s amazing what you can accomplish behind closed doors with Democrat legislators! – George Nee
Bend over, taxpayers -we rule! – Bill Lynch, RI Democratic Party
It’s just a PR problem. – Speaker Murphy

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
12 years ago

–What’s wrong with that? School sports and other activities that involve a small minority of the school population have lived off funds that are no longer there. I am sure that the committed people in sports and arts will do what they feel they need to do.
Yeah, and only a small minority take advantage of the advanced / gifted classes that are now virtually extinct in RI.
The unions’ greed knows no bounds. Bring on the municipal bankruptcies and the defaulted pensions and massive public employee layoffs, they are now inevitable, and can’t happen soon enough.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

They aren’t extinct in private schools, Ragin’, which helps to explain why motivated parents and talented children flee the publics, even if they can’t really afford to do so.
Gotta love David’s use of the passive voice: “funds that are no longer there.” The funds didn’t dry up, David. They were sucked into teacher remuneration. To the extent that those programs enriched the lives of students — including by giving talented and motivated kids a reason to remain in the same school as those who might be less so — adult largesse has come at their expense.

chuckR
chuckR
12 years ago

Confirming they aren’t extinct in private schools. My daughter was taught biology and earth sciences by an MD and a DVM, and taught physics by a teacher with a PhD in physics. I’d bet that none of them could obtain a public school teacher license, because they only know how to teach and can do so with a deep knowledge of subject material. They lack the all-important psychobabble and educrat courses. I’d also bet that they do not earn more than public school teachers. The cost premium to have children taught by these folks, instead of by people whose primary degree is in education, is not high – perhaps 30% and that amount only to those paying full freight. I doubt there is any premium at all in parochial schools, which also provide a good solid education.

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