I just noticed that the American Federation of Teachers is promoting the candidacy of two Community College teachers for seats on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board: Edwin Heil and Debbie Justeson. I have not met either of them. Based on the description given in our Voter Information Pamphlet, both sound like good citizens. What I don't understand is how we can possibly vote for District employees, even good citizens, to serve on the Board that sets their salaries and benefits and working conditions. Does this sound like fiscal insanity to anyone else besides me?
We haven't had an honestly balanced State budget in several years. Our State, and almost every public institution in it, is broke. Public sector salaries and especially pensions far exceed what a worker in the private sector can expect. Much of our fiscal problem is the result of public sector employees gaining undue influence over the those who set their salaries and benefits - at almost every level of government. Who represents the taxpayers, who provide the money to pay for those benefits and salaries? For the most part the answer has been no one. We have increased taxes and cut vital services and mortgaged the futures of our children in order to continue to satisfy the public sector unions and workers. As the word has gotten out and budgets have become increasingly difficult to balance, anger has started to boil. A few small concessions to the taxpayers have been made.
But they aren't nearly enough. For the sake of our state's fiscal health, for the sake of maintaining important public services, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren (who we continue to burden mercilessly) we must restore balance between the financial interests of public sector workers and those of taxpayers. Taxpayers need just as strong a representation in the fiscal decision making process as public employee unions provide for their members. We aren't close to that now.
We can take a small step to restore that balance by voting against the AFT and these two public sector employees (and any others) who seek a position of power that allows them to influence their own salaries and benefits. Too, we can be wary whenever a public sector union endorses a candidate. Unions are smart and well financed and effective. Most of what they do is aimed at transferring dollars from taxpayer's wallets to theirs. Third, we can also be wary of any proposition supported by public sector unions - for the same reason.
This year Propositions 21 and 24, supported mostly by teachers unions, are aimed at increasing taxes on private sector companies and individuals to provide more money to public sector education. California already has one of the worst business climates (48 out of 50) in the Nation. We have the highest paid teachers in the Nation. We are one of the most heavily taxed states in the Nation. Revenue isn't the problem - spending is.
We simply can't afford to worsen the situation by giving the AFT and its representatives any more power or money.