Should North Dakota and Nebraska residents be lying awake at night, worrying about whether the federal budget crisis will mean less money flowing to states with crushing debt loads? States are just as concerned about the annual yuletide federal budget battle as you are, because in the Obama economy we share and share alike. That means when one state screws up, we all get screwed, even if our state is fiscally responsible. Teachers are concerned, too. They are banking on tax increases that will secure their future on the backs of middle class taxpayers.
Why teachers hope you get socked with tax increases.
This week we saw more angry teachers on the news. Wisconsin, Illinois, and now Michigan have all given us memorable images of our children’s cherished educators shouting at the cameras, blocking the streets, and shutting down the schools while the property tax bills that help to pay teacher salaries continue to rise. These are the same teachers Education Secretary Arne Duncan lauds as paragons of altruism:
We all know that teachers don’t go into the field to make money. Teachers are some of the most altruistic, giving, and idealistic people you will find anywhere.¹
Perhaps Duncan meant idealistic when it comes to their union handlers, or altruistic in all matters except teacher salaries. When collective bargaining came under fire in Wisconsin, teachers pushed to have the state’s governor thrown out of office. Strikes in Illinois school districts over teacher salaries spread after Chicago teachers set the example at the beginning of the 2012 school year (see: Why Teachers Crazed for Higher Pay Are Still Better Than You). After the shameful display and violence in Michigan this week, states considering right to work laws have to wonder what will happen if they question big labor’s control of the government workforce paid for with scarce tax dollars.
Teacher salaries come first, unions second, your kids last.
The teachers we saw protesting last week don’t care about your kids any more than they care about teachers unions. If they did, they would have been in the classroom. Unions are the means to a financial end and your kids are a convenient excuse when teachers feel the urge to threaten taxpayers.
One thing teachers should care about is middle class tax increases. If property and state income taxes don’t go up, there will not be enough money to pay inflated teacher salaries and pensions at current rates, much less the $150,000 salaries Arne Duncan has pushed for and the enormous pensions those salaries would entail (see: Will Taxpayers Support Raising Teacher Salaries 165%?).
Illinois teachers know full well where the money went after the retroactive income tax increase the state passed in 2011. Fortunately for Illinois educators, the chance of their state passing a right to work law is hilariously remote, though it doesn’t really matter because unions and public officials have already done the damage. Accrued pension benefits are on the books, waiting to be paid to the tune of nearly $100 billion in pension debt.
President plans middle class tax increases while blasting right to work laws.
Our president took the same stance on right to work laws that he does on middle class tax increases. He claims he is trying to make sure his supporters get more money:
These so-called “right to work” laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics. (Applause.) What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money. (Applause.)²
But all the while there are hidden tax hikes, including Obamacare taxes, that Middle America will pay but never see (see: Obama Will Give Supporters the Tax Rates They Deserve).
Union members pay taxes, too, and teachers in states like Illinois and California have to pay to bail out their own pensions. The difference between their tax increases and yours is that teachers in states being ruined by big government pension systems don’t have to worry quite so much about saving for retirement or paying for health care in their golden years. Unless you are a government employee with a pension plan you do have to worry, and the more taxes you pay, the less money you have to fund that 401(k). In the Obama share and share alike economy, even if you live in a fiscally responsible state what happens elsewhere can and will hurt your personal bottom line. You can move out of a ruined state like Illinois, but you may never be able to escape it.