Time for state to repay its loan

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I have read with great interest how the governor would like to spend $500 million on education and the Democrats want to save a like amount out of this year's $1.2 billion surplus we are enjoying because of oil's high price, currently in excess of $60 per barrel.

Spending money on education is an admirable goal, but in reality, a majority of that money will be spent on administration and support staff. We don't have to look much farther than our own school district to see that we employ almost as many support staff as we do teachers, and with few exceptions (janitors, nurses and attendance clerks), the support staff has no interaction with the children. Administration by definition does nothing more than make policies and rules to justify their own existence.

Saving all that money also sounds like a great idea, but shouldn't the state repay its debts before it saves? The state has a huge debt to be repaid to its employees, past, current and future. About 20 years ago in the face of depressed oil prices (about $10 per barrel), the state came to its employees looking for help. The employees, in a show of solidarity with their employer, volunteered to give back a 3 percent pay raise.

Now with the price of oil six times that amount and the state sitting on a surplus of $1.2 billion, isn't it about time for the state to repay its 20-year interest free loan?

Michael Lavering


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