Siegelman, legislature battle over teacher raises

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 7, 2002

The stage is set for another struggle between the governor and the


The issue this time? A 3 percent pay raise for teachers.

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Just one day after the house passed a cautious general fund budget which did

not include a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for state workers, Gov. Don

Siegelman called again for a raise for state teachers.

During a stop in Troy, the governor admitted "we’ve got a fight on our hands."

What Siegelman wants amounts to almost $80 million, and that’s likely to be

$80 million the state lawmakers can’t – or won’t – find in the budget.

The governor’s call for teacher raises is passionate. "If you were in a

restaurant and going to leave a tip, would you leave 3 percent? Probably

not," he said. But if that’s all the state can afford, "the let’s give them a

public pat on the back."

In reality, pay raises are not simply a public pat on the back. They’re important, yes. And needed. And in most cases well-deserved.

But in a state struggling against proration and seeking real, reliable long-term education funding, do we really need another fight on our hands?

What we need is a long-term solution; real answers to the education funding

issues; and, yes, a vehicle that provides for necessary pay raises. But those

are part of a bigger picture, and we need our state leaders to stay focused on that bigger picture.  

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