Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: When living in a Red State makes me crazy...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

When living in a Red State makes me crazy...

So, I do my morning ritual...log in and read the news. The first thing I read is on the KTUU website about the possibility of a teacher's strike.
The amount separating the Anchorage teachers union and the Anchorage School District as the labor dispute nears a strike vote Monday is $13 million.
Then, I flipped over to the Anchorage Daily News to read this:
Alaska's state spending rate is swelling this year at more than twice the national average, based on reports from state and national analysts.

Figures from the Alaska Division of Legislative Finance show general fund spending growth of either 14.8 percent or 14.3 percent, depending on how the numbers are crunched.

Alaska legislators voted to spend over $3 billion in general funds for this fiscal year, according to the division ---- almost $400 million more than the state spent the previous year.

The increase comes with Republicans -- many of whom talked in campaigns about controlling spending -- in charge of the Legislature and the governor's mansion. It was made possible because the state is flooded with dollars from record-high oil prices.
And they mentioned education:
Eagle River Republican Rep. Bill Stoltze, first elected to the House four years ago on a platform of less spending, said he is concerned about the trend in the opposite direction. But the Legislature was faced with rising Medicaid costs and the need for schools in his district and elsewhere, he said.
They seem fine with funding improvements to the buildings. Can someone please explain to me why they couldn't just funnel another 13 million over to the school district as well?

According to the NEA:

Eighteen states saw real declines in average teacher salaries over those years, adjusting for inflation. Those with average salaries declining 5% or more:

Alaska (-16.6%),
Connecticut (-10.3%),
Kansas (-9.9%),
New York (-7.7%),
Wisconsin (-6.7%), and
Vermont (-6.7%)

Average salaries for Alaska's teachers show the largest decline in all 50 states since 1994.

Also, I've heard people bitching about this:
Compared to the Alaska Department of Labor, the average teacher earns more than $8,000 a year more than the average wage-earner in Anchorage.

Of course, no one mentions that, in the last 20 years, Anchorage has lost many of its technical/professional jobs and increased its number of service jobs.

Does that mean we want our teacher's pay to be on par with Walmart employees? I don't.

Also, the quibbling over their healthcare benefits is crap. They pay $270.00/month for their portion as it stands. That's about the same that I pay, and I'm on crappy federal health care! Teachers are exposed to hundreds of children carrying billions of germs every week. They should have the best health care we can afford to give them.

And finally...if we can waste money on a jet for the Governor (I love the fact that KUDO has named it "The Bald Ego.") that can't even land in many places in Alaska, why can't we funnel 13 million bucks for the teachers over the next three years?

Someone get Murkowski out of the governor's mansion, please.


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