Friday, August 19, 2011

Educators opposed Haley Public Employment Tax

After writing last night about the Haley Public Employment Tax -- the 4.5 percent tax levied by the Budget and Control Board last week against all public employees in the form of an unnecessary health insurance premium increase -- I learned this morning that representatives of one educator organization -- but only one -- was present and "opposed the increase in the strongest terms."

The South Carolina Education Association, in its "Member Matters" newsletter last week, wrote to its members,

It was a stunning slap across the face of every SC public school and state employee. After years of furloughing, firing, and finding fault with its own school and public employees, yesterday South Carolina, through its Budget and Control Board (BCB), summarily penalized state and public school employees and retirees with a whopping 4.5% increase in their health care insurance costs, effective January 1, 2012. They slapped taxpayers with an additional 4.5% premium increase for their public employees. The Board is composed of Governor Nikki Haley, Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom.

The SCEA lobbying team was present and opposed the increase in the strongest terms, but regretfully, it was the only education association to do so.

Why wouldn't every organization representing educators have taken a stand against this tax on public employees? Why was The SCEA the only one to speak up?

According to The SCEA, the Budget and Control Board, chaired by Her Excellency Nikki Haley, isn't through attacking public employees. Next stop: Pensions.

The SCEA believes that even this abuse is not sufficient to mollify Governor Haley and her allies’ determination to punish public employees. They are now looking for ways to attack the state’s employee pension plan and reduce members’ pensions. All school employees should be on the alert for further information from The SCEA. Members should encourage their colleagues to join the association today.

The organization seems to be building relationships with some leaders who don't see eye-to-eye with Haley -- including Eckstrom and Loftis.

In the last election, The SCEA supported and recommended that its members support Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. Our perception of him as a friend of public education was confirmed yesterday when he, as a member of the BCB, proposed a lower increase--3.5%--and pointed out that even that amount was more than the law requires. Only Treasurer Loftis supported his proposal. The positive impact of member participation in campaigns and elections cannot be overstated. We ask all members to carefully review The SCEA’s candidate recommendations next November and work to support true friends of education.

Guess this means Loftis still isn't on Haley's Christmas card list, and isn't trying hard to get there.

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