State budget crisis about to become a "catastrophe"

The municipal budget crisis currently striking the largest states in America is about to enter its worst phase. This NY Times article warns that as many as 300,000 teachers could be laid off this summer.

As a result, the 2010-11 school term is shaping up as one of the most austere in the last half century. In addition to teacher layoffs, districts are planning to close schools, cut programs, enlarge class sizes and shorten the school day, week or year to save money.
“We are doing things and considering options I never thought I’d have to consider,” said Peter C. Gorman, superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina, who expects to cut 600 of the district’s 9,400 teachers this year, after laying off 120 last year. “This may be our new economic reality.”
Districts in California have given pink slips to 22,000 teachers. Illinois authorities are predicting 17,000 public school job cuts. And New York has warned nearly 15,000 teachers that their jobs could disappear in June.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it an "education catastrophe". That's how we should consider it in the short-term, but in the long-term it could be considered an "economic catastrophe" as our public schools fail to properly educate the next generation. In the longer term it might be a "democracy catastrophe" because an illiterate and uneducated populace is incompatible with a democratic society.
The only reason that many of these teaching jobs still exist is because of last year's stimulus bill. That money is mostly spent.

In the economic stimulus bill passed in February 2009, Congress appropriated about $100 billion in emergency education financing. States spent much of that in the current fiscal year, saving more than 342,000 school jobs, about 5.5 percent of all the positions in the nation’s 15,000 school systems, according to a study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

Some may be under the impression that this is simply "trimming fat". That impression falls apart when you look at it on a local scale. For instance, looking at one school in the San Francisco School District.

All week Sanchez had been reeling from news that a whopping 10 out of his 20 full-time teachers had been issued pink slips by the San Francisco Unified School District. Including counselors, a vice principal, and other staff, the budget cuts essentially lopped off 24.6 percent of the school's workforce, an unprecedented blow that speaks volumes about the state of California public education.

Laying off half of the teachers is horrific under any measure. Class sizes will have to be increased by such an amount that the teacher's ability to do their jobs will be dramatically impaired.
Many community colleges in California will simply close this summer.

The layoffs aren't limited to just the schools. To give some examples:
The city of Los Angeles has plans for 3,546 permanent layoffs.
The state of California will be cutting 5,000 workers and it still won't have a balanced budget.
The city of Flint, Michigan, is laying off 46 police officers and 26 firefighters.
Atlantic City is cutting 59 police officers.

“I’ve been sitting on my hands. ... I’m not apologizing anymore,” he said. “This is a systematic destruction of our police department.”

The state of Illinois is cutting 460 state troopers and closing five of 22 regional headquarters.
The governor of Kansas says that the budget simply can't be balanced by cuts alone.
The state of New York will run out of money in June.
Arizona's governor is warning of a state "government collapse". He's not exaggerating.

"If you were to solve this budget problem just with cuts alone, if that was the only solution you wanted to enact, and you want to have a balance budget which they have to have — you'd virtually have to eliminate everything in the state government that's not (voter protected). So that would mean closing the department of corrections, closing all 150 smaller state agencies, not paying our debt service bills, and having some significant reductions to the unprotected funds in K-12, universities, AHCCCS and health services," Bee said.
You may be wondering what those "smaller" state agencies are. The judiciary system, juvenile corrections, the legislature, the Department of Public Safety, the revenue department, kid health programs and the state mental health hospital are in there.
About a third of non-protected funds have already been cut.

Nevada, which already runs a very lean budget, is looking at Medicare diaper rations and forcing personal care givers to buy their own gloves.
In Florida, the Republican legislature is making a budget that fits their values.

Both chambers are poised to pass millions in new tax breaks for businesses and yacht buyers while they struggle to find money for education and social services.

The list just goes on and on. The more you look, the more horror stories pop up. The timing will also be unfortunate. These cuts will be hitting this summer, right around the same time that the federal Census begins to let go its 700,000 temporary hires.


And administrators?

Are they laying off any administrators? My understanding is administrators are making 6 figures, that's K-12 and universities are even worse and they have administrator bloat.

I don't see why they just don't plain let out of prison all those convinced of non-violent marijuana crimes, then reduce the sentences on some of these other non-violent drug crimes. My understanding there is a huge percentage of people in prison over this and in the big picture, I'm sure all of that space could be better used for white collar criminals.

I don't have any answers here. It seems public education is one massive bureaucratic nightmare generally.

If you can believe this, the Banksters are claiming if the Congress passes anything useful on reform, it will hurt the economy because "derivatives are so profitable".

Why do they say economic recovery?

I keep reading how the economy is in recovery. People here are still losing jobs, and there aren't any new ones. Now this!


According to one of those links 70% of Arizona's state budget is going towards education (k-12 and university spending) and 20% goes to Medicaid. Where does anyone think the cuts are going to come from?

Close to 90% of anyone's k-12 education budget goes to payroll and benefits for labor and the other 10% is 'not labor'.

So once again while the average joe has had their wage earning ability slashed by government policies favoring overseas labor, education and medical sectors have benefited from enormous government support through funding and policies. Education and medical spending have been the fantasy sectors of our economy for 40 years now aside from Wall Street which is in a world of their own.

Last year most of the stimulus money was used to protect nearly all these favored sector jobs while the 'other economy' went 10-20% underwater. What is the actual unemployment number for out of work municipal, state or federal employees versus the private sector? I'm sure that number is kept and I'll bet its damn low. There is next to nothing going on in the private sector for stimulus this year either and not much for the government this time around either. Excuse me though if I don't shed a tear to see the rest of the people who live and pay taxes here faced with the same situation as the private sector went through and is still going through.

One community school system near me bought 50 professionally installed large screen LCD TVs with their stimulus money last year and this year they are crying poverty and want increase far beyond last years inflation rate. You know that government stat that states what percent costs rose last year. How did that childs story about the ant and the grasshopper go again?

I'll wager many if not most of those teacher layoffs even go through. The layoffs have to be announced now by law they usually never take place.

In an era of declining wages and declining real estate values the government cannot raise taxes to continue business as usual. Raise taxes on the unemployed? Print more money? (can't because our debt ceiling is too high already and while they aren't admitting it you will see that these huge borrowing binges are for the most part over).

The only taxes they could turn to would be a financial transaction tax that is dedicated to education costs or a VAT which will never happen. Tax financial transactions? We can't even charge them with criminal theft or obvious criminal fraud we are so much in their pockets so thats never going to happen.

That means live within the budget you have and make tough choices. Thats how its done.

Lets not forget the several trillion in underfunded state retirement programs nationwide either. Like thats going away anytime soon.

I remember many business articles in the late 70's and early 80's discussing how the US did not need to manufacture anything and that we would become a utopia of higher education and technology (they forgot to mention that the technology would be manufactured overseas and that we were turning out illiterates in record numbers) in the future.

Well the future is here and this is the utopia.

Let it die

We're getting what we deserve. For an untold number of years, we continued to permit school districts to spend, spend, spend rather than live within their means. We felt that if we could live outside our means, then our school districts can as well - after all, if I have a nice place in a nice neighbourhood, then surely our local schools can be nice as well.

We didn't force the districts to plan well or to plan for a financial disaster. Sure, we approved funds for "disaster plans" - tornadoes, snow storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc - but we never considered a "financial disaster plan". We agreed with the general law that "you spend what you have been provided by the local gov't; if you don't spend it, you lose it next year". As the districts got more funds, we forced them to spend it rather than think ahead. This is a STUPID policy and everyone knew it, but we bought it hook, line, and sinker anyway.

Now we're paying the price for our arrogance and greed. Let it all fall. We're in a mess that has only 2 options - Either the Fed Gov't bails us out or we let it fall to a manageable level. The latter is the ONLY real option that will work, otherwise, the Fed Gov't goes much deeper in debt. This is what businesses have done - they cut, did layoffs, outsourced, moved locations, etc until their cuts combined with their income led them to a point where they can afford to live within their means.

But once again our arrogance and false belief that we're better than we are, will cause the Fed Gov't to bail us out yet again. Companies seem to believe that "throwing money at a problem" will solve it - apparently Gov't believes the same. Eventually money runs out; and we're very close to this point. The Fed Gov't has already created a crater the size of China in our finances; eventually China WILL swallow us whole. We've already lost all moral authority with China and most other countries - once we surrender our financial souls to China, then we lose what we have left. Integrity is critical to a person, to a company, to a nation; it defines a nation. We surrendered ours for the almighty dollar and now even the USD is less than 2 cents parity with the CAD. We're losing our finances, we're losing any moral authority that we can use to convince nations like China to increase human rights, and now we're losing our Integrity.

That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger - but yet we're afraid of failure so we'll do anything we can to cling to something so we can't use the "f" word (failure). We need to fail, so that we can grow stronger.

Blame it on the teachers

Those darn middle-class teachers are making too much money. As long as they can afford those fancy, used Volvo's and high-styling rent on a condo, then they deserve what they get.
It's people like that, working class people, that is bringing down America. We need our teachers dressed in rags and eating cat food. Only then will our kids get the education they deserve.

Quite a Spin

Where does the education budget actually go?

Books? Building upkeep? Close to 90% goes to labor costs.

If that was an American factory it would have gone overseas a long time ago.

The same thing is happening to people working at small manufacturers making a lot less money (they can't afford used Volvos) - the factory closes - the people are laid off and you never hear about it again.

Its a crisis though when it happens in the public sector.


If that was an American factory it would have gone overseas a long time ago.

And this is a good thing to you?
I simply do not understand why anyone should hold a grudge against middle class people making middle class wages.

Its a crisis though when it happens in the public sector.

No, it's just the next stage in the crisis. Wanting the public school teachers to suffer because the manufacturing workers have suffered is peasant mentality. It's backwards thinking.
Instead of trying to tear down the working slob next to you simply because he has had the luck of not being screwed as much and as often, is self-defeating and a waste of time. You should instead be thinking about how to bring you and your neighbor up, not tear another working man down.
Wouldn't it be a better use of energy to go after the people responsible for the factory closing and the theft of your pension?

BTW, a used Volvo is not an expensive car by any means.

Whizzed Right By You

People have been affected by policies that have sent most of the middle class overseas.

The ability to pay the taxes necessary to maintain a high end education system is going overseas with it.

You insert your view of what you want me to be saying by using words like grudge. Its not a grudge its reality.

Education budgets are out of control plain and simple in relation to ability to pay. Spend some time figuring out how to squeeze more of that 10% left over after salaries and benefits for the 4 and a half hour work day they have 180 days a year and you may find a solution. 70% of the Arizona state budget goes to education costs. Thats from one of your sources.

My neighbors fell asleep and then went shopping at Walmart while the middle class was being off shored now what I am supposed to carry a candle and march for my taxes to go up?

Thats not a grudge that is a bottom line.

Teachers and Volvos

I have absolutely no issues whatsoever with teachers being paid a fair wage. I used to live in a county that was considered the wealthiest in the nation (per capita) - as well as the fastest growing. The teachers made a good income (compared to other local areas) and I fully supported it, BUT I did not support how the School District managed its funds. I had some insight because of the organisation I worked for - and the common rule was "spend it if we got it". That mentality existed because IF they didn't spend it, then their budget was cut the following year because they apparently had too much money on their hands.

So let's make a basic analogy: Let's say the budget was $150M per year; then each year, for 10 years, their budget went up by 7.4%. After 10 years, their new budget was approximately: $307M (assuming I did the math right...)

Then BOOM!

Now, their newest available budget is $290M the following year because of the crash; then $270M, then $250M and so forth. As a result, they must cut $20M in ONE YEAR. How do they do that? A bailout or job cuts or raise taxes or misc cuts, etc? US Gov't is out of funds, so a bailout isn't possible unless you want to continue to destroy America's finances. Raising taxes is horrible for jobs, since no one has one anyway and is looking for one, so that leaves job cuts and misc cuts. Now, if the Unions will back pay cuts, then that will save tonnes of jobs - which is a great approach. If a teacher who makes $65K / year is now forced to make $61,750 - what is wrong with that? Does this put them into the poor-pot? NO, it doesn't. My point is simply that we ALL need to accept responsibility for this mess because WE ALL helped to elect the government officials and WE ALL celebrated when times were good, even though the occasional seer would come along and tell us a crash is coming.

Did we listen? No, we were making too much money. Did we want to listen? No, because we didn't want to cut back NOR did we want to plan accordingly. But now we have to - and EVERYONE has to share in this mess. You and I both need to. As it appears, to admit "failure" is the only option left because we don't have the money to prop up the government anymore...and jobs are not coming. Therefore massive cuts are required in all areas of government. But as I said before - failure is a great thing! And once we're made stronger, accepted our faults and have corrected them - then we'll come back better than ever before.

35K a year per prisoner is just fine, and

7K a year per student to educate our children is out of control spending. Let it die? Sure, the hell with a whole generation of kids who get sacrificed to the slaughter and to hell with careers in education because we've got too many good jobs in this country anyway. And while we are at it, to hell with with public education as a policy. Who needs people that can read and write in the jails anyway.

What's screwed up is our priorities! We don't need more teachers. We need more tests! We don't need more money for our schools, we need more money for banks, wars, and jails! Failing inner city schools aren't a result of a failing society, they are the result of failing teachers. Way to blame somebody else.

Have you been in any new schools

I have and they are all very, very well decorated. Decorated is not really the word I want but when a school auditorium has the same acoustical arrangement as the Metropolitan Opera..something is going on.

My wife was renting the auditorium at a new school this week. Off the cafeteria (well it is now called food court) is a Greek Theater. The nice grass that needs to be manicured by a grounds keeper.

The natatorium in my kids school was built against the will of the people. You know, those are the folks that pay the property tax to fund such things. The weight room rivals the best private gym in town. The $100K artificial turf football field, etc. And the kids in school, well thanks to that well connected non-profit program called CPM....75% of the high school kids don't know their multiplication tables.

I have a relative that was a school administrator and retired. He retired in 1980 at age 58. His defined benefit plan has allowed him to travel the world over the past twenty years and lives in a $800,000 house. Not bad for an educator and it was all nicely funded through taxes. Currently he is in Scotland for a month. I say he should get a raise.


hummm, imagine that, not one union has allowed a pay cut, or pay adjustment to meet the children's needs. Seems everyone else has to pay, but the administrators and teachers. Hummmm, basic economics?

Facts be damned

You obviously don't know anyone that works for a state or local government. You also haven't been reading the newspapers.
County government workers have been taking pay cuts across the country. Where they aren't official pay cuts, there are furloughs, which are pay cuts by another name.

Facts be damned Redux

I think it's good we're an econ, non-partisan site and allow anonymous moderated comments. Clearly there is some sort of propaganda out there trying to blame the unions for all of our economic woes and it's massive. I've seen this crap pop up around and I know I've heard it on FAUX news, but where is it really coming from? How can people blame other people who are pretty much in the same boat as themselves financially? How can they do that and not see the disparity these days between "executive" pay and regular pay?

Good rant material

I was just thinking about that this morning.
Why is it that when people hear that teachers have pensions they think, "I don't have a pension. Why should they get pensions?" When instead they should ask, "Why don't I have a pension?"
It's backwards thinking. They want to bring fellow working people down to their level, instead of wanting to bring themselves up. But at the same time they claim helplessness about Wall Street destroying their ability to get a pension in the first place.

Maybe I shouldn't say "backwards" thinking. Maybe I should say "peasant" thinking.
Our new royalty, the corporate elite, are beyond our grasp, but the working class guy living next door isn't. How dare he get a little bit ahead of us just because he has a bachelors degree! Who does he think he is?

good question, why do they want to tear down what's left?

Maybe it is because a government job was portrayed as a dead end, bureaucratic deal, the private sector was supposed to be the place to obtain financial security and a good retirement. So now everyone is screwed, they seem almost enraged that some government jobs are way more secure in wages/retirement than they are.

I feel a little jealous. I was truly sold a bill of goods in College in terms of the "big money" skills. Many are.

But why they do not realize they should be taking that rage out on the private sector is beyond me. Why are they not screaming mad at executive pay for example. I mean that's their retirement dollars going into someone else's pocket.

Why are they not marching on Wall Street at the growing prevalence of companies even refusing to do matching funds in 401ks or have absurdly long vesting structures where they happen to fire people right before vesting happens?

It is misdirected rage. Our site title, Populist, maybe we should look to help redirect that rage and outrage at the real guilty parties. It sure isn't some smuck teacher being forced to provide basic class material out of their own ~$40k paycheck and teach 40 kids per class who revolve in an out per class period.

Because They are Paying Those Costs Directly

Through taxes and they have some control over those through the voting process.

Lets see how that Arizona referendum goes over for a 'temporary' tax to raise their tax base there. Temporary, ha, what a joke.

Also these 'jobs for life' now represent some of the best paying local jobs around.

I hate to bring up Central Falls, RI again but in a community with an average household income of about $22k the average teachers pay is $73k plus solid gold benefits.
$15,000 a year per student costs is almost as much money as these people have for a whole year.

No one from Goldman Sachs lives in Central Falls to direct 'rage' at and those people would be hard pressed to pay for a ride to NYC to protest them.

A teacher there may as well be a Goldman exec comparatively.

A complete lack of perspective

A teacher there may as well be a Goldman exec comparatively.

So someone making $73k a year is the same as someone making $73 Million a year?

This reminds me of two things:
1) the poor white factory worker from the South a century ago, who could barely feed his family, spending their free time beating (and sometimes lynching) poor blacks and union organizers whenever they agitate for better pay and working conditions.

2) the crab bucket mentality:

Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither should you." The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Singly, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless "king of the hill" competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.

There is a difference between working for a living and not working for a living. Too many Americans have forgotten that.

Crab Mentality ?

None of your analogies to the private sector work since the private sector was and is being replaced by cheap labor from overseas and as that happens the ability to pay the taxes to maintain the government infrastructure is being diminished. Nothing has been done - NOTHING to protect private sector workers union or not all those jobs are being moved a little slower now because most of the damage has been done.

Now jobs that are paid directly from taxes need to be kept at the same level despite the lack of tax income? The money isn't there but I have a grudge and I am in a bucket of crabs. Thats your answer? Run for office maybe thats an election theme.

70% of the Arizona state budget you cited goes to education costs. Thats a lot of crabs in a bucket too.

Chicken or egg?

Nothing has been done - NOTHING to protect private sector workers union or not all those jobs are being moved a little slower now because most of the damage has been done.

No doubt. I feel ya'. You have a legit complaint.
But I think you are working at this from the wrong angle. Cutting the salaries of other working class slobs solves nothing. In fact, it creates other serious problems, like gutting the education of the next generation. That's not something that can be ignored.

Why don't we look at solutions first? That's what I am saying.

They Killed the Chicken and They're Looking to Cook the Egg

When this happens its a crisis of unimaginable proportion yet while the middle class was being gutted by Reagan, Clinton, Bush and now Obama it was, you know the way things are.

Its not about cutting anyones paycheck as a solution.

Its about a reaction to the economy and a lack of tax income after decades of government policy that has stripped away an entire sector of the US economy. No one seemed to have a problem with that while it actually happened. Now the game has changed because society has lost some of its ability to pay its own bills via the tax process. This could not be more clear than it is right now.

Where do you expect the money to come from? Thats a simple question if answered. The unemployed? Those underwater with their mortgages? The underemployed? The wealthy that we can't even charge with obvious crimes? (I voted Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama before you state I elected people who are killing my living even though Clinton did do that) States and municipalities are raising taxes through huge fee increases and the like so that they do not show up as income tax increase but they have the same effect. My state is struggling with balancing their budget and one solution is to kill state aid to cities and towns. Gee what happens when that bumps into education mandates? Property taxes skyrocket. Sure RI taxes for RI money not New Jersey taxes for New Jersey money but the percentage increases are going to be significant.

I would be fine with education cost increases tied to the CPI. How would that suit you? They get every penny of increases as determined by government stats no questions asked. Beyond that means education spending is rising faster than the rest of the economy which should not happen.

That would give every school system in the country a 2.7% increase for this year based on last. Of course based on 2008 they should have gotten a 0.1% increase.

Most school budgets would consider being locked into the CPI as suicidal as it would not even cover the medical cost increases.

New school Budget Could Raise Local Taxes by 9.5%

Median RI income.

I just checked and found that the median RI income for a family of 4 in 2005 (latest stats available) was 78k+. This ranked 8th in the entire nation! So, your 73k+ teacher isn't even making the median state wage for all occupations. And besides, that 73k salary is for a teacher with many years of experience, accreditations and certifications. The average salary for ALL RI teachers, regardless of seniority, is 56k+.

Full disclosure Jim, my wife is a middle school teacher. She loves the profession and is deflated, but not defeated, by the bureaucratic red tape she deals with daily and the political bashing her profession takes from people like you. She only wants to make a difference in the lives of her students.

Oh btw, she had to take 7 furlough days this year. It looks like a 5-6% pay cut PLUS as many as 10 furlough days will be implemented next year. Additionally, a number of teaching positions will be eliminated and the class sizes will be increased to maximum allowed by state law. To this end, they will be using "averaging" of classes to skirt the legal limits.(ie- Assume state law = 32 max per class. If I put 40 in a regular math class and 20 in an advanced math class. Then the average math class = 30 which is less than state limit).

Oh yeah, one more thing. Her benefits suck more each year and cost her more each year.

Read Again

I never mentioned the state of RI in my post just Central Falls something you clearly decided to miss.

Thats the average earning of a teacher in, once again for those that missed what I actually wrote, 'in Central Falls' is $73k plus benefits for 180 days a year, 4 and a half hours a day contractually.

That earning level is for a single person not a family of four which in RI includes another earner most likely.

Central_Falls,_Rhode_Island The median income for a household in the city was $22,628, and the median income for a family was $26,844.

Also from Wikipedia.

There are five counties located in Rhode Island, one of which are in the top 100 richest counties in the country.

Rank National Rank County
Per Capita Inc Median House-hold Inc Median Family Income

1 94 Newport County $26,779 $50,448 $60,610
2 102 Bristol County $26,503 $50,737 $63,114
3 124 Wash. County $25,530 $53,103 $66,112
4 197 Kent County $23,833 $47,617 $57,471
5 722 Prov County $19,255 $36,950 $46,694

Falls Church

Ok, Falls Church is a crime ridden war zone, we get it. But what does that have to do with teachers and everything to do with the local economy and what's going on in the big picture. That's like blaming teachers for what's happening in Detroit, or Flint MI. Detroit and Flint have been decimated by offshore outsourcing, bad trade deals because they were auto towns. So, the point I think all are trying to make is, it's not the teacher's salaries that are the issue here, it's why the median income is $22k? That's the outrage of Falls Church no?

Falls Church?

More proof that people are responding without even reading my content.

No one is 'blaming teachers'. Thats just another spin designed to fit my views into someone else's box.

Central Falls though is an example of government costs not having any relationship with the ability of the community to pay them. They haven't paid any part their own school costs since 1991. They can't afford government as is.

Government has a cost associated with it, correct?

What is the largest cost? Education. Arizona, according to an article linked in this post, spends 70% of its tax income on education costs, 60% on k-12 and 10% on university costs.

What is the biggest component of education costs? Labor. A recently settled school system budget in Cranston, RI showed 88% of its total was allocated to labor costs.

What is the biggest part of education labor costs? Teachers salaries and benefits. 63% of all Providence school system employees are teachers. 4% are admin. 20% teachers aides. 7% clerical. 6% other. Really teachers and teachers aides are 80% of the employees.

In effect the largest cost associated with government overall is teachers salaries and benefits.

So it naturally falls that as society loses its ability to pay for government due to government policies that encourage jobs to be sent overseas there has to be cuts in government spending somewhere correct? Especially so in a time like this when wages are falling and so many private sector taxpayers are out of work.

Just where should these cuts come from if not from where the money is being spent?

No one has any answers except to disagree with me on a personal level and say its unfair to blame teachers. Of course let me know when life is fair.

Please Jim, share your story with us.


I just reread the post and then each of your comments. I truly don't know what exactly is bugging you but I would like to know. Who are you and what is your situation? Do you have kids? What is your background? Is there any other part of the public sector, besides teachers, that you would like to comment on? It might help the rest of us understand where you are coming from. I mean, achieving a functioning society has its costs, and I don't think we want to see every fucking thing in America controlled and run by the private sector!?! But perhaps you do and I would be interested to know if that is the case.


I suppose if you can't actually come up with an answer to the situation the best thing you can do is attack someone who says cut costs.

You answered what you incorrectly read prior to this and now you skip directly to reaching for some basis for a personal attack apparently.

Wow - RI has one heck of a median


That is about $40,000 higher then BLS country wide median.

So in my neck of the woods, my second grade teacher friend making into the $70,000 range is making RI wages.

State median income is @$50,000. So to get from $50,000 to $70,000 ya need 40% more salary. I better go get to work.

County-Level Unemployment and Median Household Income for Pennsylvania

Now on the RI stat.

Could you have accidentally picked the highest wage which is Washington Country (over $70,000).

The RI State median is $54,500

County-Level Unemployment and Median Household Income for Rhode Island

Facts be damned a third time

"Not one [teachers] union has allowed a pay cut", wrote anonymous drive-by. In the second-largest school district in the nation (Los Angeles), the teachers' union voted to approve furlough days in order to save the jobs of colleagues. As already pointed out, furlough days are pay cuts by another name.

Disagreement is one thing and is to be expected here, but I find this blatantly counter-factual ranting disheartening.

Ray Joiner

Propaganda poppy cock

It is what can be seen and not the unseen.

Try living in a heavy manufacturing town that is mostly Unions. I am sure you will awaken to find that greed isn't the sole property of only non-union people.

While Caterpillar was still big in this town, you could push a broom for $20 an hour. And that was in the 1980's. Add to that their bene program/taxes/workers comp, etc. and that broom pushing cost about $55 an hour.

They all complained so much for so long that Caterpillar picked up and moved south.

I can tell you that the town was not very sympathetic to their constant whining attitudes. There was no "faux" news in those days and we had one newspaper. A liberal paper. It was what we say them saying and doing on their picket lines. They had it better than 80% of the people living in the town and they were a spectacle to see as they picketed for more...and more...and more. That was until the golden goose picked up and left town.

Facts be double damned.

Custodians are being privatized out of jobs, and the clerical unions are up next. Teachers in our community have taken cuts for the last 3 contract negotiations. This contract, they are being asked to take a 10% pay cut, pay for family covered on their medical insurance, pick up 20% of their own insurance premium, and to pay the State another 3% more towards retirement. Nowhere did they get a cut in hours or repsonsibilities in return. The stipends they used to get for coaching or doing student clubs after school have been eliminated, yet, they are expected to do them anyway. All of this just to put up with smart assed kids and smart assed parents who don't appreciate what they do anyway.

All of this is happening in the third richest county in the US - not some inner city school.

New Jersey Teachers - Your Worst Nightmare

Woody allen once quipped that Armageddon happened when Albert Shanker, head of the NY Teachers Union, got the Bomb. He had no clue about New Jersey. Hundreds of School Districts all of them tiny each a fiefdom with its own purchasing, vehicle fleets, layers of bureaucracy that would make a New York bank blush.

In my district, teachers start out at $45,000 and retire around $75,000. There were death threats to the Gov. Christie when he proposed a 1.5% retirement health copay, now, retirement health benefits are 100 per cent taxpayer paid. The union will let no one get fired, unless they are sexual predators. The rubber room of New York is the rule for the worst incompetents.

On top of this there is the enormous state bureaucracy. And the principals? $125,000 with pay like benefits that make New York banks blush. Don't get me wrong, I am a 4th generation union guy. But nobody around my hood pays less than $8K in property taxes for quarter acre lots with a house with 2400-3200 square feet.

Burton Leed

I'm staying out of this one

Because I just don't know enough about K12 education and what's happening. All I know is if I had a kid I would home school them before sending one to that zoo. I see school administrators acting like executives, giving themselves raising perks, junkets while teachers go on furloughs. I see it required teachers buy class materials like paper, crayons and so on.

I see the biggest insanity in simply learning, with little strange psychologists on "how people learn" totally screw it up with things like horizontal math and arithmetic required when anyone with a brain knows the reason math is in columns is because it is not English and it's much easier to calculate that way.

I see schools changing textbooks and history.

I have no frigging idea except we all just got screwed on health care, individual insurance is a true blue unsafe rip off, and costs are going through the roof.

That and the private sector has screwed a whole generation on retirement. We have no pensions.


In my district, teachers start out at $45,000 and retire around $75,000.

And this is some sort of outrage to you? You are honestly comparing this to New York bankers?
I'm sorry, but maybe your problem is math. Do you know that the difference between $50,000 and $25,000 is a tiny compared to $50,000 and $15 million?

There seems to be a consistently theme here. People are equally outraged over a working class salary that comes from teaching your children, and a billionaire's salary that comes from stealing your life savings.
Have American's lost touch with reality?

No One Makes $15 Million in My Neighborhood

Our ever expanding school budget where my nearly $7,000 a year in tax dollars plus a good portion of state taxes and some federal taxes goes to however is over $50 million a year.

Who is using a banker as a guideline for working class salaries? I don't vote on banker salaries the last time I checked.

Tax-weary N.J. voters reject record 59% of school budgets

Anymore esoteric comparisons that are completely out of touch?

Missing my point again

Whether someone with $15 million is in your neighborhood or not doesn't make a bit of difference. The extraction of wealth from rural areas to eastern banks is a story nearly two centuries old.

Who is using a banker as a guideline for working class salaries?

I'm not using a banker as a guideline for working class salaries. That is my point.

I don't vote on banker salaries the last time I checked.

On the contrary. You voted for the people who made certain that made sure those bankers could continue to receive those salaries.

I Voted for Change

Where is that so far?

When did the tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas get repealed?

Not one single answer to the actual problem of funding more and more expensive education just whines about the problem and complaints towards any view that is okay with decreased spending.

And you didn't get change

I knew that was going to happen when I saw Obama's cabinet.
As for offshoring of jobs, you are preaching to the choir. I'm totally with you on this.

However, that's a whole different issue. We are talking about cutting the salaries of middle-class school teachers here.
Let me propose something that I think we might be able to agree on: Instead of starting with cutting the wages of working class Americans, how about we start with saving money from doing things like a) declaring victory ending incredibly expensive and useless foreign wars, b) not subsidizing the same Wall Street banks that stole from us, c) declaring victory and ending the unwinnable war on some drugs, d) doing something progressive like taxing capital gains at the same rate as income, e) raising the cap on social security taxes to higher incomes so it doesn't go broke.

Can we agree on at least some of these things?
I also think that we need to get rid of NAFTA, CAFTA, get out of the WTO, and revoke China's MFN status. But those things would only see results after a period of time.

My solutions would save trillions of dollars and raise trillions of dollars more. Your solution would be measured in the hundreds of millions and still wouldn't get us anywhere because it would continue the whittling down of the middle class.
That's what I mean about perspective. It's sort of like the people that blame our troubles on immigrants. I'm sure that there are some issues with immigrants that are real, but in comparison to what truly ails this nation, immigration is a distraction that the wealthy elite use to divide us.

Too Little Too Late

Your 'solutions' would take decades of total progressive control in Congress. Each and every one is worthy and should be made priorities in the national agenda. Now tell me who on the national level in elected politics in this country is pushing any of these things. Run for office on that platform and you could win.

The bills are due this year though.

States, cities and towns do not print money and they spent the bulk (2/3) of the stimulus money last year on guess what, schools. So last year everyone that drank the kool aid believed the economy would be booming right now and they ignored any warning signs that that wasn't true. The ant and the grasshopper has relevance here and in general with how we do things in this country. Laugh if you will but reality is slowly seeping into some borrow and spenders mindsets now isn't it? Gee why don't we just borrow another $2-3 trillion and keep education spending where it is?

If people saw my concerns decades ago as relevant to their apparent fiefdoms some of these things would not be happening now. Instead its a knee jerk reaction to save whats important to them with a wink and a nod towards the rest.

Watch some old movie that has a back drop of a closing steel plant in the 60's and ask yourself whether they laid of some teachers when those plants closed because the community didn't have the tax base anymore.

one of the main reasons we exist

This is the layperson's blog. In other words, we're trying to get some policies to re-open that factory. That's the huge point of EP and we are so friggin' right frankly. If we could get policies to rebuild US manufacturing, and so on, you can see how much screwing the middle class affects the macro economic data. So, not only are we writing about economics for the rest of us, but we're also showing that policies which screw the U.S. workforce also screw the U.S. economy at large.

So, while one can say "it's too late", well, I feel that way on a host of things and believe me, during the primaries, I was screaming as loud as I could that Obama was not going to do anything on trade, offshore outsourcing and so on, for the same reasons as midtowng here. I read the actual white papers, looked at the voting record, dug into the huge money behind his campaign and looked heavily at his economic advisers.

But the point is to fight and fight hard to get that plant re-opened or some other sort of huge industry, businesses opened and started which will provide the kind of income the middle class needs.

It's also about fighting for labor and that's not union labor per say, that's the U.S. workforce, as a whole.

As I just noted, economics, finance is very difficult for the public at large to wrap their head around. The political blogs discount the topic (at their peril frankly), and as we just saw via TPMmuckraker, you can get infiltrated with corporate lobbyists and front groups and all sorts of BS because this is the $$$$ and when money is on the line is when the shit hits the fan.

That's why I suggest all dig deep as best they can, and why I'm so intent on accurate statistics, well cited sources. I personally have read even Academic papers that are full of BS. Either leaving out major data, or burying some faulty assumption upon which they build the "rest of their case" and I've even seen mathematics manipulated to the point of absurdity to make some fictional claim.

All of that is designed to hoodwink the American people and it's also very useful to divide people, get them on bandwagons, as we see with the far left and the tea party and so on....where they demand some policy and honestly, they really don't even understand what they are demanding or the consequences of it all.


Who in Congress is working on new stiff tariffs or a VAT to counter foreign wage levels?

Midtowng could win an election running on the principles they laid out. Thats not a joke there I mean that. Who stands for the middle class in the Congress? Maybe a few.

Without some new local taxes or some white knight proposal that makes it through Congress to fund new borrowing local taxes will have to go up substantially to maintain the status quo. Its not just education. We are only seeing that first because it has been spending at a pace where any slowdown is visible.

I don't need to quote sources for that its in all the newspapers all over the country. Googling 'school budget' on Google News brings up nearly 30,000 recent news articles.
None are presenting some Mayberry RFD type story about good times.

If we had 400 or more of Bernie Sanders types in Congress the US would be run by the people for the people. We don't.

Frankly its disheartening. Being against my taxes going up does not make me a Tea Party advocate just someone who pays a lot already for the area. If I say something to disagree with a Tea Party person I am auto labeled a pink hat liberal and if I say something against taxes going up I am a racist neo con. Both sides have the role of the other so well defined that no common ground will ever be found.

I am on another car forum with international scope

the factory moving out of the country is a worldwide problem. The people in places like the UK are screwed and really PO'd. We are like rats now trying to figure out where the cheese is located and people fall for the "change" logo. Well there isn't any change coming from a party with a D or R in front of it. The "change" people voted for was change alright. It was changing the location of the cheese again, putting people in the administration that were already good at moving the cheese and then pontificating about how good you are at changing the cheese.

Hey Jim.

I lived for 20 years in central NJ, just a few miles outside of Princeton. There were a lot of "old money" estates in and around Princeton and they were happy to pay their "bloated" tax assessments in order to maintain the bucolic nature of the area. IOW, they understood that everyone, all classes, needed to be able to live in the area to keep it alive and vibrant.

Friends of ours lived in Princeton, in a 1200 sq.ft. shotgun style house embedded in an old residential neighborhood. Our friends referred to it as the "golden ghetto" because it went for 400k in 1998 and had about 30 sq ft of grass between the front porch and the sidewalk. But ya know Jim, it worked for them and for the very, very wealthy in Princeton. There was a sense of community and what makes it worthwhile that all shared.

You seem very bitter Jim, but I am also very bitter. I just don't think we are bitter about the same thing. The tax weary voters of NJ are going to find out what happens to societies that run their communities like businesses. The cruel irony is that businesses OWN, and therefore control governments. Thus, they dictate how the rules are applied. Communities are just along for the ride and to pay the way of the plutocrats.

(PS Jim - 7k property taxes are NOTHING in Somerset/Middlesex/Mercer/Hunterdon counties in NJ)

A Lot in RI Though

I am glad for the super wealthy in New Jersey who can afford to pay those taxes. If I lived there my daily and hourly rate would be much higher so I could play in that game also. Wow whats your next question - what do I do? Too bad I'm not the subject here much as you seem to want to focus on me personally.

I am wondering why you are allowed to address me directly in posts though and why you are allowed to ask me personal data etc?

Have I attacked you personally? Or do you feel any opposing opinion is an attack?

No Jim.

You haven't attacked me personally. But you seem to draw conclusions that are not factually correct to me. So, I wonder what it is about you that I'm missing. Also, the friends I mentioned in Princeton, they weren't the super rich. Hell, they were not rich at all, but they valued what the Princeton community had to offer and were willing to support it. But the old wealth was there and they contributed their fair share too. There just wasn't a lot of class conflict evident in Princeton, and that is worth exploring further if we hope to maintain America in any sense that all classes can recognize.

Teacher Pay and the Money Illusion

Pay teachers 40K in high cost areas? Are we suffering from the money illusion? Back in the good old days (1962) when campus recruiters were offering 5,000 a year to teach school, 6,000 a year for sales jobs (we were about to graduate college and 6K was about what we could earn on a loading dock in Jersey, but that was a union job), in business, 10K a year was considered the mark of success. A Ford Fairlane sold for $3,000, and a good house for maybe 18K to 20K. A member of congress made about22K – today, the CPI compounding puts it at $158,539 (and who said those guys weren’t smart?)
Based on the CPI, a car (Ford) should cost 21,618. A house maybe $144,000. Inflation adjusted, a teacher’s starting salary might be $36K, but none of us expect to stay at entry level forever. Since teachers are often expected to get an advanced degree, 40K is not so much. Principals and administrators at that level, who might have made 8K to 10K now need at least $58K to $70K just to stay even with cost of living.
If anyone thinks teachers are overpaid, I challenge you to take your 4-year degree and try it – I would not last a week managing brats who do not want to be there just to teach something worth learning to the others. Having taught in a university, I know the difference in having a classroom full of motivated people with a real interest.
But the cost of providing education is important if we are going to have real jobs in America, and not just be tour guides and chambermaids for our wealthy Chinese landlords forty years from now.
Frank T.

Frank T.

You've hit the nail on the head

I've said it before. In the twenty some years I've lived in my house...I've watched my school taxes rise 800%. There is nobody I know that has seen their income rise like the school taxes.

Your salary examples are about right for my State. I don't know where these school teachers live that are starving but it isn't in my State.

There are 565 different school districts, they all have taxing authority and there is no other government entity to oversee them. They are milking us dry. Every, every, every year I fret and worry about having enough money to pay this years school taxes.


What state do you live in, URDRWHO?

In California, school districts cannot raise taxes without putting it to the voters. Sounds like you're saying they can just raise yours whenever they feel like it. Is that what you're saying? If so, I would resent to too.

Ray Joiner

I live in PA

and there is no electing on it. The Commonwealth of PA doesn't even have referendum.

I think many of the east coast States are set up with school boards having the authority to set school budgets and that means raising taxes. They never go lower ....moot point on that one.

I am fairly sure the State to the south of me, Maryland works the same, the State to the east of me New Jersey works the same. I think a lot of States have the same problem. California with its power of Ballot Propositions is a different animal. The last time I owned a house in CA they were passing Prop 13.

So in CA Prop 13 is probably too tight and in the east we have no way to limit the property tax increases.

Oh we vote in new school board members but they always go against their promises. Several years ago we voted in an entire new board. The old board wanted to build a new $80 million high school. New board gets in and we get a $100 million high school. I believe there are about 1,200 students (grades 9 through 12).

It is difficult for each house to be appraised for reassessment so they raise the millage. In 1996 the millage was 11.45 and in 2010 the millage will be 22.53.

So my house is assessed at a bit over $200,000. That means in 1996 property tax was $2,290 and in 2010 those taxes will be $4,506. On top of school taxes you will also have country and muni taxes.

Our house has seen our income go down by 30% in this recession. Teachers are going on strike for a guaranteed cost of living raise of 5% for the next six years. You want to get people PO'd and such stuff will do it. Taxing an illiquid asset is painful in the first place. I can't cut off a corner of my house to pay the tax, it isn't income producing. The cost to carry a house is just insanely high today.

I am reading the 08-09 budget and teacher salaries went up 5.01% and benefits went up 1.56%. Admin salaries went up 3.8%. That happened during a time that many in my town saw factories close, cut back on hours, massive layoffs. The money to pay those increases is taken and I can not say no. If I say no, if I stand firm, in the property will be taken by the barrel of the sheriff's gun. The sheriff will show up to usher me off my land.

BTW in the 09-10 budget the salary increase is 12.38%.

Now do you wonder why we the populace, the non-union people get a bit prickly about their want to strike while we the taxpayers see dropping incomes.

Taking it to the Creeps (Faux News)

The reason there is this huge orchestrated rage against the Federal Government and 2500 protesters appear in the tidal basin is Rupert Murdoch our new William Randolph Hearst, and his little Rosebud, Sarah.

The Bansters get away with it because they have invested 5 $Billion in contributions in the last 10 years to get their way. Faux News orchestrated the Iraq War artfully and now their target is Congress.

Burton Leed