I was listening to Don Wade and Roma this morning and they had Gov. Pat Quinn on their show. He was trying to tout his reform of the teachers' pension fund but the conversation quickly turned to the one percent income tax increase (he kept calling it a 'surcharge') that would be dedicated specifically for education so that a bunch of teachers wouldn't be fired come September.
Contrast that with Gov. Chris Christie's tactic of freezing the pay INCREASES for teachers in the state of New Jersey (discussed in a previous post) so that he won't have to raise taxes in a state whose economy is very similar to that of Illinois right now. Christie is not talking about firing teachers, he's not talking about cutting anything really. He's just asking that the teachers forgo a pay increase for a year in order to bring the budget under control.
Higher education has been using that tactic for years to good effect (not good for the employees but having a job is better than not having a job). One of my former places of employment had a 1/2 percent increase ONCE in the five years of my employment there. Many state institutions in Indiana are freezing pay increases due to budget constraints.
The main difference between these two approaches is this: Quinn can't even contemplate bucking the unions and would rather squeeze the taxpayers of the state of Illinois to pay for what basically is a budget crisis in the Chicago schools (he kept saying in the interview that 'we're a billion dollars in the hole' which is the figure that the Chicago school system requested from the state legislature). Christie, on the other hand, understands that in order to balance a budget and reduce deficits, then some things have to happen. Quinn would rather raise taxes (and if that doesn't work, see teachers lose their jobs) than just have the unions hold off on a raise for a year (or two or three) and have everyone employed without putting the burden on everyone else.
I've gone more than one year without a raise. I know a lot of small business owners who will cut their personal salaries in order to keep their folks employed. Why would teachers and their unions rather see their constituencies/colleagues unemployed rather than forgo an increase in a time of crisis??
4 months ago