Several people have written to me (publicly on the blog comment section and elsewhere) about my article calling for Washington State employees to face cuts in benefits and pay.
The comments were from people whose spouses work for the State. They were a little concerned that I would paint such an unsympathetic picture of the pay and benefits they receive. Their families are facing tough economic times, too.
They're right to point out that the numbers I used in my post last week were averages, and that there are many employees who make a lot less than those figures represent. Two of the comments were from home-schoolers, and I understand full well that finances are especially tight in families making the sacrifice of time and money to educate their children at home.
That's the risk you take when you talk about average pay and benefits. You risk under-emphasizing the outrageous examples at the top tiers. You risk lumping in even those who are lower-paid (and who have lower benefit levels).
In the future, I'll address some of the outrageous examples at the top. But for now, please read this article from today's Washington State Wire. It shows how non-union State workers would have faced higher cuts than union employees in a budget bill enacted this week by the State Legislature, but vetoed by the governor.
I don't want to cause an uprising against public employees. I do want everyone--even those employees-- to start dealing with the real issue facing Washington State: Our government has made promises it can't afford to keep. Cuts must be made, and everyone will take a hit in some form or another. Shared cuts, meaning trimming benefits or wages for all state employees, are better than outright removal of jobs.
Also on the subject of public-sector (government) unions, read this article by Bob Williams: "Why Private Sector Unions are Much Different than Government Unions." It will explain why unions in government employment are not a good idea, and never will be. The article is on the State Budget Solutions website, which I highly recommend to you.
Keep your comments coming. I appreciate hearing your viewpoints.