The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

July 2, 2014

And the band played on...

As a strong public school advocate I was frustrated to read Rep. Keller’s latest “understanding” of the pension crisis. Rep. Keller claims that he seeks “transparency” and then blames the school employees who are the only group who have paid their full shares into the pension fund all along. Years ago state legislators gave the school districts and the state permission not to pay their full shares into the pension fund for a period of time when the pension investments were doing very well. Simultaneously the legislators included themselves and other current state employees at that time in a 25 percent pension increase in a deal with the governor. When the pension fund investments began to decline along with your personal investments and mine, the legislature did nothing to fix the obvious problem. Today as the same pension problem remains Rep. Keller wrings his hands and blames the group that paid their own way all along.

In the interest of “transparency” consider that we all proudly support one of the highest paid state legislative bodies in the country. Unfortunately our teachers are nowhere near the highest paid in the country. Consider that a teacher must go to college for four years, pay for and earn a bachelor’s degree and then go another series of years to earn a master’s degree and continue to go back for training throughout the course of a career before becoming a permanent teacher. Imagine what that investment costs to then earn an average $40,000 per year according to Keller.

Our legislators are scheduled to be in session for 70 days this term, the only time they can actually legislate and they will make twice what the “average” teacher earns. Legislators will also earn automatic cost of living raises and receive superior health benefits, cars, gas and meals paid for by taxpayers.

Oh, by the way, legislators do not have the expense of having to go to school to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, then periodically return to school for further graduate training However, they occasionally generously return some of our tax money to us in the form of grants, and smile and shake hands at parades.

As the parade passed by I questioned who was making the greater contribution to the community — the school band director and the  students in the band making wonderful music and learning to work together or the state representative who smiled and wandered down the street, waving to the crowd?

Paul Mauger,

Lewisburg

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