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The Education Budget is a slap in the face of educators and taxpayers

Published 5:59am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For the past three years state employees, educators and our entire public education system has taken it on the chin.

Unfortunately, it seems next year will be another rough one thanks to the education budget that was passed by the state House of Representatives last week.

There are two proposals in this budget that are slaps in the face to the taxpayers and educators.

The first of these proposals is a two percent pay increase for some educators. Now don’t get me wrong; two percent is better than nothing, and that is why I voted for it. But there are several problems with this particular pay increase.

To begin with, this pay increase is only being given to some educators. Retirees and those who work in higher education will get nothing.

Furthermore, in the past we have always strived to give pay increases to both educators and state employees. But like the retirees and those in higher education, state employees are getting nothing.

Another issue with this pay increase is that it isn’t actually a pay increase at all.

Three years ago, the Republicans passed legislation that took 2.5 percent out of educators, state employees, and retirees paychecks. So this pay increase only givens them back a portion of what the Republicans took.

Democrats in the legislature tried to fix these problems with the pay increase by offering multiple amendments that would have given all educators and retirees a 5 percent pay increase.

This would still only be a portion of what educators should get because the cost of living has increased by 7.5 percent since their last pay increase, but it would at least have given educators back what was taken from them and given them a little help with the rising cost of living.

And the pay increase Democrats proposed would have gone to all educators and retirees, and not just some of them.

But, unfortunately, the Republican Supermajority voted down our proposed pay increases.

And if we can afford to spend $50 million on vouchers for private schools, surely we can afford to give educators a 5 percent pay increase.

The second slap in the face came in the form of a $5 million line-item expenditure for liability insurance for educators. This expenditure is an unnecessary diversion of badly needed dollars that could have been put to better use funding new textbooks or paying for class field trips.

Educators don’t need state-funded liability insurance. They already have liability coverage through their local school boards.  And they also receive liability insurance through their professional associations if they are members of AEA or the American Federation of Teachers.And what if the teacher is in arbitration with the state for a wrongful termination case?

Are they supposed to rely on a representative who is paid by the entity they are in arbitration with? There is no good reason for the state to be providing this insurance, and no good reason for the taxpayers to have to pay for it.

For the past three years, the legislature in Montgomery has waged a war on educators and our public education system.

Now the Republican leadership is hoping that teachers will be pacified with a 2 percent pay increase and state funded liability insurance. What this budget does is an insult to the intelligence of the taxpayers and our educators. It is a slap in the face to educators, state employees, retirees, and those who work in higher education.

The people of Alabama deserve better!

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