Candlelight Vigil for Taxpayers

I think we need a candlelight vigil for the taxpayers of Round Lake District 116.

I bring this up after reading in the Herald how the teachers union in District 116 held candlelight vigils while they threatened to strike for higher wages and benefits. Of course that is easy for teachers to do because they have tenure and cannot be fired for striking.

The reason for supporting the taxpayers, who do not have tenure, is a front-page article in the Daily Herald on December 12 outlining how health insurance costs had risen compared with the average salary from 2000-2006. The article showed how salaries on average had gone up about 13% from 2000-2006.

In the interest of fairness, I checked on the salary increases for the teaching staff at District 116 and found out that for all teachers who worked for District 116 over that same period, salaries had gone up an average of 36%, almost 3 times as fast as the taxpayers being vigiled. Interestingly, vigil is the root of vigilante.

And maybe we should hold a vigil for Lake Zurich District 95 taxpayers too, because when I checked their teacher increase 2000-2006 it was up an average of 54%, higher even than the health insurance single coverage increases of 48%. As reported by the Daily Herald several times, Dist 95 is struggling with their budget- and no wonder considering those 54% increases! Who can forget the District 95 Education Fund referendum 5 years ago that passed by 17 votes? Seventeen votes in a district where the largest employer is you guessed it District 95, with about 800 employees. So basically, the very people who benefited directly from the referendum determined the margin of victory. Hopefully Dist 95 voters will not be fooled next time.

These are just two examples of the teacher union tail wagging the Illinois taxpayer dog, and without even a whisper of criticism from either politicians or the media. Day after day, we get the unrelenting PR campaign trying to sell us the idea that the education system in Illinois needs more funds. It is obvious from these 2 examples that the problem is not funding; it is spending.

If teacher salary increases kept pace with taxpayer salary increases, we could cut taxes rather than increase them. And leading the charge for more money for teachers is Gov. Blagojevich, who has received donations from the teachers union of $300,000 twice — the latest on 10/4/2006, one month before he won re-election. Other giant donations to Blago from teachers include $250,000, $225,00, $200,000, and $100,000 twice. My, my — what a coincidence.

In total, teachers have contributed more than $2 million to Blago and more than $1 million to the Madigan twins- Michael and Lisa. Recently, Michael has come out for more state taxes for Community Colleges. Apparently, Blago handle K-12 and Mike handles beyond that.

And keep in mind that as bad as it is for Districts 116 and 95, it is even worse for us who don’t live there. That’s because we are the ones who have to pick up the tab for the teacher pensions, which are based on salaries that are negotiated locally, but are paid for at the state level, not the local level. This means that teachers who live their average life expectancy end up getting more in retirement benefits that they earned when they worked.

When you hear Democrats like Blagojevich and Durbin decrying Corporate special interests keep in mind that their multi-million dollar special interest is the Illinois Teachers Unions.

Bill Zettler is a free-lance writer and consultant specializing in public sector compensation.