In light of the recent budget proposal by our Governor, I felt it was time to take action. Governor Corbett is proposing to balance our state budget on the back of our education system. Among other things, he's asking all Pennsylvania teachers to take a pay freeze.
I am a teacher at Panther Valley High School. Before you roll your eyes and think that teachers ask for the moon, let me give you some numbers. I am in my eighth year of teaching, hold a Masters degree in education, and am married with four children, all of whom are at home. My gross salary this year is $40,975. In order to earn some extra money, I opted out of my school's insurance plan to get an extra $3,000. I've heard that might not be an option next school year with Obama's new health plan. I had to pay for my undergraduate degree, and all but 9 credits of my 30-credit Masters degree program with student loans. I am paying $400 per month for the next 10 years for my graduate program alone.
I didn't go into teaching for the money, but I do have a family to feed.
So Corbett wants me to take a pay freeze. I was recently part of a tele-town hall meeting with State Representative Jerry Knowles. As I was listening in, a caller was supporting Corbett's plan and saying how he felt teachers need to remember for whom they work. How about our elected officials? I'm sure the caller was not aware of the real reason Corbett is not taxing the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. Perhaps Corbett "feels" that by taxing the natural gas companies they would not relocate their offices to Pennsylvania or would leave the state altogether. Perhaps he feels that they would not "bring" jobs to Pennsylvanians.
Let me suggest another motive for not taxing these companies. As written by Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News, "In a remarkable coincidence, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Corbett received a hopping $835,720 from oil-and-natural gas interests, including his largest single contributor, Marcellus Shale driller Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who gave $305,000 to the Republican's campaign." Bunch adds
"…an Oklahoma gas driller – Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy – funneled most of the dollars for an eye-popping $480,000 donation that went to Corbett's attorney general campaign from an obscure GOP fund." According to Bunch, if we were to add a severance tax on gas production we "would bring in an estimated $200 million in revenue in the coming fiscal year [that] would rise to an estimated $400 million annually as drilling increases." But we can't have that tax because Corbett would lose his campaign funding. So instead, he's proposing to balance the budget on the backs of our children, none of whom were directly involved in getting us into the awful mess we are in. Are the Governor, the Legislators, and all state employees taking a pay freeze too?
I guess everyone has to do their part to help get us out of this mess, so I'm willing to do mine. Give me the Governor's salary, benefits, and perks and I'll take a freeze. No questions asked.