Coming to a budget meeting near you starting in 2011, complete chaos!
It was sadly humorous to listen to the Cincinnati City Council meeting in their vain attempts to arrive at a budget before the New Year. Cincinnati is running serious deficits and in spite of their desire to build a street car, because there isn’t enough money to pay for the current staff of police and fire department personnel. Tax increases to pay for extremely inflated public sector wages is not an option. That has been the type of band-aid fix that has always bailed out these types of problems in the past. But it is not going to fix the problem going forward.
Those two public sectors police and fire departments are essentially in the same boat as teachers. Too much money is tied up in personnel at too high of a cost per employee. And all across the nation public sector employees that are making over $70,000 a year on average are strangling the budgets of states to the point of bankruptcy.
The audio of this clip is particularly revealing about the nature of everyone involved.
The unions are refusing to see that they need to rethink their contracts. In the audio clip, the head of the police union is reacting violently to the facts presented by council and how much of the budget is taken up by her union. Just like teachers, they are all well-intentioned people who have become accustomed to a certain level of income. And the city council is ill-equipped to make the hard decisions needed. Just like school boards, and township trustees these local level political entities are not able to handle complicated problems. Public sector unions have had their way with these naive political bodies for such a long time that the budgets have bulged to these critical levels.
In 2011 I see that teachers are going to deal with this reality as well. Striking won’t help because there are too many job shortages, so teaching vacancies could quickly be filled with teachers that make far less than tenured teachers do. But it will be painful. During the Lakota Levy of 2010, a slight reduction in state funding caused a fiscal crisis at Lakota, because the step increase schedule was plotting the Lakota Budget on a perilous collision course. In 2011, that same step increase schedule is in place, but under the Kasich administration, public education funding may decrease another 15 to 20%. And local communities will not cover that large discrepancy with tax levies, because it doesn’t fix the problem and is a completely unreasonable cost to communities. It only buys a little more time for the tenured teachers to hopefully get to their own retirements while their pensions and wage rates are still intact. That is the desperation you hear from the head of the Police Union, it’s the realization that life as they have always believed it, is coming to an end. And that desperation is only a preview of the neurotic fits that public education employees will soon reveal.
It’s not that I don’t have sympathy. But remember that public employees chose their professions, and the time that’s coming will be bad for all people who work in public sector work. However, those of us that have stayed in the private sector, which pays less because competition sets the costs, will find that these desperate cries won’t affect us. The cries will come from those employees wanting to be paid from our tax money. And the noise will be intense, but it’s not members of government employment that support our society. It is the tax payer that does. So don’t let that noise confuse the situation. The pain is simply a result of necessity. Our nation needs a smaller, less intrusive government so our economy can expand. Once the smoke clears, it will be a stronger state, and a more resolute nation.