Do not be fooled by 1 percent bonus

By Dr. Henry C. Mabry, AEA Executive Secretary

The Senate Republican leadership is putting the screws to educators once again. Not only is Sen. Del Marsh trying to make student test scores the major consideration of teacher evaluations under Common Core, but now Marsh and his Republican acolytes are hitting educators in the wallet once again.

Sen. Tripp Pittman offers a puny 1% “bonus” to educators (excluding retirees) with one hand, and refuses to put more state money into PEEHIP with the other. This means educators will get a one time check of $150 to around $500 in October (right before the general election) while taking $81 more per month out of educators’ pockets for PEEHIP. That means Pittman, and the Republicans on his committee, voted to give a piddly $150 to $500 one time check in October, while taking $972 from each of you over the year. This is literally one step forward and two steps back for teachers and support professionals while retirees get whacked over 5% of their retirement checks because of this one, heartless action.

This is more of the same for the Republican leadership in the legislature. For four years these hateful people have done everything they could to make the lives of educators miserable. Now, they want to give this puny $150 to $500 check to show how great they are (while pickpocketing a thousand dollars of added PEEHIP cost from every educator). Providing the “bonus” is like an abusive husband who beats his wife for years and expects all to be well after bringing home a half dozen carnations.

What makes matters worse is that Pittman and his miserly followers in the Senate committee will put aside in savings approximately $400 million while making these cuts if national economists are right about the economy. Pittman and the senate Republican leadership must think educators are dumb, dumb, dumb. They think giving out a $500 check on October 1 will curry favor for their elections a month later. The problem with this is that PEEHIP costs will go up at least $81 per month beginning at the same time. The Republican legislative leadership will try to have the cost increase masked in some fashion by PEEHIP staff led by Leura Canary, but the bottom line is that PEEHIP out-of-pocket costs will increase thanks to Del Marsh, Trip Pittman, and the rest of the Senate Republican leadership brain trust.

What is this like? This is like a father who gets a 7% pay raise after years of no raises, and then socks away all of the raise instead of paying for his children’s much needed dental work. Some would call this fellow a deadbeat dad.

Gee, we wish we could do more, because we really do appreciate all of the teachers. This is a statement our educators will be hearing from Republican incumbents when they return home, but reality says otherwise. These people will knowingly set aside hundreds of millions in savings while telling the lie that there is not enough money. Truth be told, the economy would have to grow below 3% per year 2014 and 2015 for the state not to have the money for a 6% raise/COLA and to provide the necessary funding to avoid the $81 per month out-of-pocket increase for PEEHIP.

Not only is the Republican leadership going to cost every educator in the state another $500 next year under the Senate budget proposal, but these politicians have already cost the average teacher $2,517 thanks to the pay cut imposed in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Further, these primarily older white men refuse to reimburse teaches the $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs spent on classroom supplies to help students learn. Hyundai worker do not buy nuts and bolts to take to work to build cars, and teachers should not have to spend $100 a month on needed supplies because the state and local school systems are not doing their jobs.

These fellows are quick to give $20 million in education money to Bob Riley, but they squeeze the purse strings on textbooks so a third of our students have no textbooks to take home to study. They can give money to parents of private school children, but they force the parents of public school students to spend hundreds of dollars on copy paper, wet wipes, and toilet paper to help the schools operate. And, in the Pittman budget, they can add $19 million in pork barrel projects while at the same time cutting educators take home pay. Under the Marsh/Pittman budget, educators are paying out of their pockets $200,000 for the Alabama Forestry Foundation, $250,000 for Adaptive & Disability Sports Education, $50,000 for the Brierfield Ironworks Park, $430,000 for the State Law Enforcement Agency, $250,000 to the Supreme Court Library, $240,000 for the Homewood library, $220,000 for the Sports Hall of Fame, $95,000 for the Alabama Trails Commission, $1 million for the Insurance Information and Research Center, $500,000 for the Institute for Automotive Engineering, $95,000 for the Center for Civic Life, $250,000 for the Poultry Technology Center, $1 million for the Cyber Security Center, $250,000 for the Little River Canyon, $100,000 for the Film Initiative Program, $400,000 for the Economic & Small Business Development Program of West Alabama, $650,000 for the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, and, my favorite, $250,000 for the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency. Thank you teachers and support professionals for each paying $250 out of your pockets by yourselves to pay for these and other pork projects that will help friends, girlfriends, and relatives of our fine lawmakers.

June 3 will be the first opportunity for educators to return all the favors bestowed upon our public schools over the past four years. Clearly it is time to replace these smug Scrooges in Montgomery with people who care about public education.

Date: 03/01/14
Category: Political

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