In response to your recent editorial in support of school levies, I offer a few reasons why I have voted against them.
•Government workers have been elevated to a special class of employees. Over the past 50 years due to political influencing, they have consistently increased pay and benefits regardless of the general economy. Education employees have exceptional contracts requiring only 180 working days a year, and then have sick days, personal days and training days deducted from the 180-day requirement. Yes I know that there are dedicated people who work more than the minimum, but that is not mandated.
•They have an unsustainable benefit entitlement. They have among the best insurance, benefit and retirement plans offered to any workers. A government employee can put in 20 years and then receive a substantial pension and insurance benefits for the rest of their life. A teacher can start at age 22 and retire at 42, and the taxpayers have to pay them until they die at 92. When these benefit plans were created in the early 20th century, the pay and pensions were very low and had little impact on the school district’s budget. Now they are an enormous and unsustainable cost.
•Broken promises. At every election we are promised that the answer to every problem is higher taxes and more money for schools. Yet in many cases, student performance has consistently declined over the decades.
•Too many chiefs. Fifty years ago most school districts had about 5 percent of the employees in management and 95 percent teaching or assisting in classrooms. Now many districts have 50 percent of their employees in management and support positions.
•Poor maintenance. The district has a dismal record at maintaining their buildings and facilities. The don’t paint the ones they have but want to spend millions on new buildings. It is never enough. Remember that the levies are extra taxes on top of the ones we already pay. And when levies are approved, new ones appear on the next ballot.
•See the big picture on taxes. Property taxes automatically go up with increased valuations. And we are also paying income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, car tabs, excise taxes, utility taxes, and on and on.
And our “public servants” in Olympia are working overtime to create new ones. -Bryon Moeller, Marysville