Legislative pork more important than educators pocketbooks

March 10, 2014 11:16 AM


By Dr. Henry C. Mabry, AEA Executive Secretary “We really appreciate the teachers and what they do for our school children.” This is basically what Sen. Trip Pittman said before passing his budget out of committee and then out of the Alabama Senate that provided an unnecessary pay cut to all educators, young and old, white and black, new and experienced, Republican and Democrat. Pittman bristled at my comments questioning the cutting of educator incomes. He was quick to retort that teachers do what they do for reasons other than compensation. Pittman is right that going into education requires a special breed of person and such people entering the field are often called to do so. Pittman is wrong, though, to slough off compensation and treat educators poorly. Educators do what they do gladly, but taking advantage of them when they have had to work much more for 20% less for so long is not right. Read the Second Commandment, Senator Pittman. With anywhere between $200 million and $400 million in the bank by the end of next year, PLUS the rainy day fund $437 million paid off, Pittman expects educators to take another pay cut. Education will have set aside $800 million by the end of next year and every teacher, school nurse, bus driver, and cafeteria worker will take a $500 to $800 pay cut? “We really appreciate the teachers...” This statement of Pittman’s is plain horse manure. Pittman and his team want to gig educators $500 to $800 while he sets aside under the rolling reserve act--the real abortion bill enacted by the legislature-- $17,000 per classroom. Maybe Marsh, Pittman, & Co., also need to brush up on the third deadly sin, as well. We do not wish upon them to journey past the centaurs along the howling Phlegethon to live amongst horned demons or the likes of Plutus in the afterlife, but this band of politicians needs to step outside their sealed echo chamber and reconsider their actions. What is so pathetic is that Marsh, Pittman, & Co., made the proposed cuts under the guise of staying under the Rolling Reserve Spending Cap to keep the “integrity” of the spending cap. This was another steaming pile of horse manure. The governor’s proposed budget went $92 million over the cap. Pittman went more than $16 million over the cap--roughly the amount used for the pork barrel projects he added to the budget. Pittman included many juicy ham hocks and stuffed sucklings for his voracious followers including: $500,000 presumably for the Commerce Department for trips to Paris and Canada, $250,000 for the Supreme Court Library (but zero for the entire state’s school libraries), $1,500,000 for legislators to dole out in districts, $75,000 for the Civil Air Patrol, $192,000 for the Forestry Black Belt Initiative, $220,000 for the Sports Hall of Fame, $650,000 for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, $1 million for the Insurance Information and Research Center, whatever that is, and $430,000 for the State Law Enforcement Agency (but not one penny for school safety to protect our children and faculties from shooters). My favorite is $95,000 for a Special Outreach Program at UA. I just wonder who the person is receiving that Special Outreach. Maybe Sen. Gerald Allen knows something about that one. Congratulations, educators, you will be paying $81 more a month for PEEHIP specifically because of these projects being funded and because Del Marsh’s henchman Trip Pittman is so appreciative of what you do. Pittman and his bosom buddies in the Republican senate hierarchy are plain wrong. Even Gov. Robert Bentley has seen the error of the senate’s ways.  The governor said he would veto the budget if it came to him without it funding PEEHIP as he recommended (which included the $81 a month so educators would not get a pay cut) and without a 2% raise. Governor Bentley has not done educators right during this four years, and he knows this. He really knows that what the senate did was tantamount to spitting in the face of teachers. The face spitting is even more obvious to those in public education. We seek justice. Del Marsh has had a big time laughing at AEA this session and last. Del Marsh thought it was oh, so funny how they moved up the qualifying date to specifically short circuit our ability to recruit candidates against his minions. He and a bunch of his blind followers stopped laughing so much when they saw a pretty full field of competition once the deadline arrived. Del Marsh and Trip Pittman can laugh all they want as to how they have turned the screws to educators with this pay cut disguised as a pay raise. They take all educators as fools and think saying, “We really appreciate the teachers and what they do for our school children,” is going to cover up this latest pay cut scheme, the 2.5% pay cut of 2011-2013, the decimation of tenure and the fair dismissal act, no COLA for retirees, and the rolling reserve abortion act designed to ultimately suck billions of dollars out of education. This Republican leadership team has cut public education more than any state in the country, and they laugh. This Republican leadership team has made our educators feel like third-class citizens, and they laugh. This Republican leadership team proposes to cut your pay and concurrently adds $20 million in pork projects, and they laugh. This Republican leadership team pushes a RIF bill designed to eliminate tenure rights, and they laugh. On June 3, and in November, let us do our job to end the Republican leadership team’s knee-slapping guffaws. On June 3, and in November, let us do our job to end being taken advantage upon, and instead get us new representation that really means the statement, “We really appreciate the teachers and what they do for our school children.”    

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
- Nelson Mandela