One suggestion: highly paid state and local employees should have their pay frozen or cut
An expensive economic-stimulus package...a far more expensive financial-rescue plan...a Detroit auto-industry bailout...a mortgage-assistance plan...fresh economic-stimulus and financial-rescue packages down the road.
These things all are being done to save our financial system and the real economy, short-term, because there are no other immediate solutions but public solutions. They are not a part of President Obama's secret plan, as right-wing critics allege, to establish European social democracy in America. They are, however, burdening us with frightening trillions of public debt, down the road, which will constrain every public decision from this point forward and, once the downturn is over, present us with big inflationary dangers.
Nothing to do but suck it up and get it done. Yet, at the state and local level, we sometimes seem to be floating along as if nothing had happened — even as fresh cutbacks and layoffs are announced by local employers.
As Kent Kammerer pointed out in today's Crosscut, Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle City Council are having difficulty making sensible cuts in salaries, including those of Nickels and the council, which are highly inflated compared to those of their counterparts in other cities. High-dollar city bureaucrats should, at the least, have their pay frozen in the year ahead. Some should be asked to take outright cuts. Meanwhile, state public employee unions, as Kammerer also points out, are suing Gov. Chris Gregoire rather than agreeing to postponement of pay increases the state cannot afford.
University presidents and regents are lobbying Olympia hard for higher-education support. Washington State University President Elson Floyd has voluntarily taken a pay reduction. Yet University of Washington President Mark Emmert, one of the most grossly overpaid at any U.S. public university, has agreed only to a freeze of his own pay. Meantime, UW faculty vacancies are not being filled, faculty salaries are uncompetitive, student assistance is in jeopardy, and the administration's energy remains focused on securing big public money for a Husky Stadium rebuild.
Our state and city are in for real hard times, just as the rest of the country. Business as usual is not acceptable. At national level, we are going deeply into the red to save ourselves. If you run or work for a business of any size, you are struggling to keep viable. Time for those in the local public sector to get real.