William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK – AT 9:01 A.M. ET:  New York State is one of the biggest out-migration states in the Union.  In other words, many people leave the state every year seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

It's not surprising.  New York has among the highest living costs and highest taxes of any of our states.  Like its counterpart on the West Coast, California, it is dominated by liberal politics.

But you really begin to understand the out-of-control mentality of New York when you realize where some of our taxes go – for example, paying school superintendents more than the president of the United States.  Consider this example of why states go broke: 

ALBANY — It’s good work if you can get it.

New York’s 50 highest-paid suburban school-district employees pulled in more than $260,000 apiece in the last school year — with two Long Island superintendents cracking the half-million-dollar mark.

Teachers notched six-figure salaries on average in the tony Westchester districts of Scarsdale, Bronxville and Byram Hills and in Jericho, LI, in 2011-12, according to a compilation of data by an arm of the Manhattan Institute.

Average pay for all school employees was actually dragged down by numerous substitute teachers and part-timers whose salaries came to only a few thousand dollars a year — although big pay packages to some retirees partially offset that.

Taxpayers ponied up more than twice as much to pay the $73,949 average Long Island school district employee salary than for the typical $36,394 employee in upstate’s Mohawk Valley west of Albany, according to the findings posted at SeeThrough.org.

The conservative think tank found that salaries for employees ranging from administrators and teachers to custodians, aides and bus drivers continued rising on Long Island and in six other regions over the past four recession-racked years while Mohawk Valley and Capital Region schools actually cut pay.

“Long Island and the Mid-Hudson are up, up, up four years straight,” noted Tim Hoefer, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for New York State Policy. “These numbers just seem too high when you look at all these localities that are struggling financially. So where’s the breaking point?”

Rockville Centre Union Free School Superintendent William H. Johnson was top dog at $567,248.

COMMENT:  Of course, we'll be told that it's "for the children," but of course it isn't.  I can't see where the quality of education has improved at all in many of these areas.  Of course, we want our teachers to be decently paid, and we want the best people in the field.   But New York must do what Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, bringing the cost of public employees under some reasonable control.  

Money is fungible.  The districts paying those outrageous salaries also receive federal aid.  That means that you are helping to pay for the excessive spending here in New York.  And you may be sure that more federal aid will be requested.  Given the power of the teachers' unions in the Democratic Party, the checks will be written. 

We are currently involved in a major budget crisis in Washington.  Part of that crisis stems from the drainage of funds sent from the federal Treasury to "worthy" causes in the states.  Look at those worthy causes with two eyes.  And try to find out if "the children" really benefit.

November 14, 2012