Why Scott Walker Must be Re-elected

Bear with me as I convey a story about an impoverished rural county in New York as a reason for Scott Walker’s re-election.

Sullivan County New York once had a bustling economy. It was the home of dozens of Catskill resorts that headlined famous entertainers like Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, singers like Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond. Hundreds of thousands of people came to the county each summer to enjoy the fresh air, outdoors activities and the entertainment.

Today, all of the resorts are closed, leaving many of the people who came to work in them unemployed.

Sullivan County was also known for its large number of dairy farms. Much of the milk and cream used by Kraft and Borden’s came from Sullivan County farms. Today, however, like the resorts, the county dairy farms are fading away. The high cost of fuel makes farming unprofitable. Feed prices have soared because the government mandates that corn be turned into ethanol instead of tapping our tremendous oil reserves. Dairy farmers are selling off their cows because government-set milk prices are not enough to cover the expenses of producing the milk.

Sullivan County is a county in distress. As with so many parts of the country, economic opportunity is poor, unemployment is high and local government expenses are growing with no end in sight. The plain folks of the county are under the gun with high county taxes, high town taxes and high school taxes. Keeping government costs down, as Gov. Walker is doing in Wisconsin, is a must.

With that in mind, consider the cost on the people of the new school superintendent in the Sullivan West school district.

The incumbent superintendent retired this year and the school board searched for his replacement. Dr. Nancy Hackett was selected for the job. Dr. Hackett has never been a school district superintendent before. Her last job was as a school principal in an upstate New York school. There are no doubts about her qualifications for the job. According to the article announcing her selection in the Sullivan County Democrat dated May 23, 2012, she has a doctorate in education from the well-respected Rochester University. The Democrat article ran a photo of a smiling Dr. Hackett and her husband. Most people would smile if they had the salary package that she received.

According to the Democrat, Dr. Hackett will get a salary of $154,900 per year. She will also receive a $2500 relocation allowance, a $2300 payment toward her term life insurance policy and “at least 109 paid days off (counting personal, bereavement, vacation and sick leave, plus holidays)”. “But” the paper continues, “she must pay 13 percent of her health premium…”

That is a pretty heady remuneration package for leading a school district that consists of one elementary school, one high school and only 1300 students. When you subtract weekends and her 109 paid days off, Dr. Hackett only has to work 152 days a year. At a nearly $155,000 salary, that comes out to over $1000 per work day. Still, that is less than the outgoing superintendent’s salary of $163,000 a year. While superintendents do not have a union, they are members of a professional association that does represent them and help negotiate contracts.

We wish Dr. Hackett well in her new job but is this what a poor community can afford? Her salary and benefits are typical for a New York school superintendent. It is not out of line either with her predecessor’s remuneration or with others around the state. In the future, Dr. Hackett will also receive a state pension and Social Security benefits. Yet this is a typical example of government salary and benefits out of control. What private employer would guarantee its employees a minimum of 109 days off a year?

Tomorrow, the voters of Wisconsin will have a chance to keep Scott Walker as their governor. Gov. Walker has worked tirelessly to bring excessive salaries and pensions under control. A government worker’s pay should not be head and shoulders higher than the people who he or she works for. Remuneration should be in line with equivalent private industry pay.

Walker’s re-election will strengthen the people’s efforts to rein in run-away government spending. Ordinary people cannot continuously have their paychecks sapped by rapidly rising taxes. Hopefully, someday the people of Sullivan County and the rest of the country will get some respite from their crushing tax load.

© The American-Conservative 2012 http://www.american-conservative.com/

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