When a society develops to the point that the horizon becomes stagnant and unchanging, with no challenge to breach it, greed and laziness may become the spirit of the day. That society which reaches such a stopping place in life becomes corpulent and corrupt. There becomes no reason to be drawn to the future, having become content with the spoils of the present. Has Maine, and the United States reached such a position? Do we dare strive for a better tomorrow for our offspring, or shall we be content with the riches bestowed upon us by our Fathers?
Maine’s future has become of serious question. The State, County, and locally elected officials show no desire to create a serious solution to the tax problems we are now facing. Spending needs to be cut across the board before tax cuts may be used as a solution. In fact, tax cuts are not a solution at all. In and of themselves, the best a tax cut can achieve is a false sense of contentment with the voters. Voting day comes around and you close the curtain behind you in the polling booth. You see some guys name on the ballot. You think “hey, I’m going to vote for this guy. He worked to get me a tax cut this year. I appreciate a tax cut. I’ll support anyone that will give me a tax cut. I like tax cuts.” But if spending grows without reason, and more importantly, without control, tax cuts will only lead to insolvency. Comrade Baldacci, in a move that appears to be a panicked response to the failure of his last under the table deal to screw the people of Maine, has issued a statement regarding spending control. I quote here a piece from the Portland Press Herald,” Baldacci has said that any tax-reform plan should impose “spending reform” by curtailing administrative costs in state
government and strengthening existing caps that are supposed to limit spending increases at all levels of government.”
All well and good, but will he stick to that philosophy? Also in the headlines, and part of the real tax problem we have is an article regarding State employees contract negotiations. Here is the text of the article:
Two-year state contract includes increases in pay
A deal for 10,000 workers is called the best ‘that could be arrived at’ in the current fiscal climate.
By SUSAN M. COVER Blethen Maine News Service
June 27, 2007
AUGUSTA — State employees who work in the executive branch bargaining unit have approved a new two-year contract. Maine State Employees Association Executive Director Tim Belcher said all four groups – administrative; operations, maintenance and support; professional/technical; and supervisory – approved their contracts Monday night. Combined, those groups represent about 10,000 state workers.
The agreement, which takes effect July 1, calls for workers to receive a $700 lump-sum payment in July and a 2 percent raise in 2008. Workers also will go up a step on the pay scale in 2009, resulting in a raise that is closer to 4 percent in the second year of the contract. Contract talks began in January. In April, with most of the contract settled, state workers held a State House protest to ask for better pay.
For Kathryn Latulippe of Winthrop, a 30-year union member who works in the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the raises don’t equal cost-of-living increases. “Wages is always a sticking point,” said Latulippe, a member of the negotiating team. Another bargaining team member, Tom Maher, who works in the Office of Information Technology, said mileage reimbursement was another difficult area to negotiate.
“The big insult to thousands of people working for the state was they said they weren’t going to pay us federal mileage,” he said. Instead, the final agreement gives state workers an increase of 6 cents per mile over the two-year contract. State workers now get reimbursed 38 cents per mile.
Overall, Maher said the process worked well. “This is the best contract that could be arrived at under the current fiscal conditions,” he said.
Here are the contract highlights:
$700 lump-sum payment in July, which equals 2 percent of the
average state employee’s annual salary of $35,000;
2 percent raise in July 2008;
For workers with 25 or more years, a 50 cent-per-hour raise
starting in September;
For employees of an institution, a 30 cent-per-hour raise in July
For direct-care workers, an additional 30 cents per hour in July
Belcher said current “political circumstances,” which include a lot
of debate and concern about state spending, sometimes hurt
“We’re going to turn that debate around,” he said.
Perhaps the largest segment of the real budget is the amount of funds that go towards payroll. We often read and hear about the different departments, like DHHS and DIFW and so on, but we never get to see how this money is actually spent. Here we talk about a union contract between the employees and the State of Maine. That would be you and me, but we have zero input into the negotiations. The negotiations are controlled on the state level by people whose job depends upon whoever is holding elected offices. Committees run the government’s daily operations, or rather a department head appointed and/or approved by the committees.
So let’s take a look at this contract. According to this article, the contract takes effect July 1st, 2007. That’s next week, which allows no time for comment on the taxpayers position to this new raw deal we are getting screwed with. The suggested number of employees is 10,000, and the average wage is $35,000 per year. I work in mid level management and don’t make quite that much. What have they got to complain about? But they will be getting a lump sum payment of $700.00 each. Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you do the math. $700.00 times ten thousand employees equals $7,000,000.00 big green dollars. That’s right. Seven million dollars is coming out of your pockets next week so a bunch of overpaid union activists can stand around and complain about the low wages they’re receiving. Furthermore, next year they’ll get another 2% raise, another seven million plus dollars, and 4% more in 2009. Just for kicks, that adds up to $134,600.00 per week being siphoned out of your wallet. That’s every week for the rest of your taxpaying lives. And that amount goes up every year because of the raises they get.
This bozo named Belcher complains that “political circumstances” sometimes hurt union members. Well, you know what? If you don’t like it Mr. Belcher, quit and get the hell out of my state. I don’t get that kind of raise every year in the private sector. My job isn’t as well protected either. If I screw up, or the economy slows enough, I loose my job. My employment depends on my performance, and the results generated by my efforts to my employer. Why isn’t the state held to the same standards as the private sector? There really isn’t any reason why they shouldn’t be. When I’m driving down the highway, and I see a road crew standing around watching one or two of their fellow workers do the work, I wonder where the value is. Why is a truck driver getting paid more than I am, and he’s sitting on the side of route one reading a newspaper. And don’t tell me he was on a coffee break. The street sweeper hadn’t caught up to him to unload. He was wasting time, as well as the taxpayer’s dollar because the project had been poorly planned. You don’t see this sort of thing going on with private contractors.
Remember that this is a minimum of fourteen million dollars for the next two years. The state was just misled by these money grubbing socialists into approving a bond package to the tune of eighteen million for water projects. We weren’t told what these projects were going to be. The dollar figures work out to be about the same, what with raises here and there, travel bucks and so on. You don’t suppose we were snookered and the eighteen million to improve water is going to cover the state employee’s higher wages, do you?
More on this contract next time. Gotta go tend to my high blood pressure now.