Michael T. Ryan: Time for fiscal discipline, not override
To the editor:
We are overwhelmed by the prospect of another permanent tax hike. It is a spending problem not a revenue problem.
In the last four years our property tax bills have skyrocketed. Mine has risen 32.5 percent and the value of my property has dropped significantly. I have looked back 40 years and cannot find a period remotely similar.
As usual it’s come down to the schools. They have by far the biggest budget and the most unionized employees. In the decades since Proposition 2½ passed, the schools have added more people. Over the years it adds up and we have reached the tipping point. The School Department has also grown while the population of the city has not.
Nobody doubts that the teachers, administrators and other school employees are good, decent and dedicated people. We just can’t afford the number we have.
There are many reasons why. They add workers when they get a temporary funding source like grants and the so-called stimulus. When the funding source dries up, they expect us to foot the bill.
I think the problem is a teachers union pay and benefit package the city can’t afford. The override mechanism was not intended to be used as an escape-responsibility card for the mayor and City Council for promising more than they could deliver.
Keep this in mind also. A so-called “cut” in the public sector is not really a cut. It is a reduction in the amount of their budget increase. They still get a budget increase.
The teachers union has cultivated an image of teachers being underpaid, overworked and unappreciated. No, you won’t get rich, but you will make a good living with yearly raises in excess of the cost of living by the government’s own figures.
The union uses its leverage — “the children” — shamelessly every chance it gets. It tries to bully folks into voting yes by using terms like short-changed and selfish and less than quality education. I call them what they are. Threats.
The public sector is growing at a better than 5 percent clip and being paid for by a private sector that’s barely growing at 1 percent.
Folks, don’t be hoodwinked this time. The nation is drowning in $17 trillion in debt. At some point we will hit the point of no return and implode if we don’t get our arms around all this spending and rein it in.
If we won’t do it locally, we have no chance of doing it nationally.
Just because our elected “leaders” can’t stop spending doesn’t mean we can’t put the brakes on. A “no” vote will send a message that we want fiscal discipline from them.
Michael T. Ryan