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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


Legacy Comments2

Thank you chezdan9. You took the words right out of my mouth.

The Northampton Schools have lost 37 teachers due to cuts over the last 10 years. How many have been added, Mr. Ryan? Can you tell us? Your use of the term "union" is nothing but a dog-whistle to labor-haters and reveals your true agenda. You are right, these teachers are not getting rich by ANY stretch of the imagination. What you clearly don't know or understand, Mr. Ryan is that Northampton teachers are some of the LOWEST paid teachers in Western Massachusetts. Most positions in neighboring towns such as Holyoke and West Springfield pay their teachers, on average, $10,000 MORE than Northampton does. I would encourage you to actually talk to a teacher here in Northampton who works in a system cut to the bone. A system where there is ZERO budget for ANY supplies. Most teachers pay for their classroom supplies from their own pockets. Many hard-working teacher spend hours on special projects and programs FOR FREE because there are no funds available. Your attempt to paint the teachers of this city and their union as part of the problem is nothing short of uninformed and insulting.

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