Thanks to our state representative, Mike Yantachka, for standing up for local property taxpayers and the local control of the bargaining process with teachers. I’m sure there are many taxpayers who are eager to benefit from the $26 million in savings Gov. Phil Scott is promising if the state takes over negotiating the health insurance benefits for all teachers.
However, one has to read the fine print to see what he plans for this money, if in fact it exists. He is not proposing $26 million in property tax relief. His plan is to capture much of it on the state level for new spending on early education and higher education, retired teacher health insurance benefits and other state priorities. He has mentioned only a possible $13 million to offset local property taxes.
Also, I find it hard to understand how two entities can negotiate a comprehensive benefit package for teachers. Health insurance is an integral and significant part of overall salary and benefit agreements among teachers and their school districts. What may be the unintended consequences and complications and expense of parallel negotiations?
Around the state, there are now a number of larger, consolidated districts. Teacher negotiations are now handled by experienced administrators as well as savvy school-board members. Savings they may achieve this year will directly benefit property taxpayers rather than being siphoned off for state priorities.
I hope the governor’s vetoes are overturned and we can let the process (and savings) play out on the school district level.
Nancy E. Wood, Charlotte