Sunday, January 9, 2011

Modest? Ridcously Low? You be the Judge

Have you been hearing about the modest salary that President Obama’s Press Secretary has been receiving? $172,000.00 really does not seem all that modest to me. As a matter of fact that sounds pretty good from my perspective. However, I read yesterday in the Austin American Statesman that there is some concern about the Chairperson of Texas Department of Transportation making a salary capped at a “ridiculously low” amount of $192,500.00. You need to remember as well that travel, office expenses and other miscellaneous costs do not come out of the salary. Seems to me those at the top might be a little out of touch with what salaries are in the real world.

Do not get me wrong I am not against a person making a good living, but when Texas ranks as the 33rd state in teacher salaries you have to wonder where our priorities are. Seems to me we should be more concerned about educating our future workforce and leaders than keeping the fat cats fat.

Now, if you have been listening to the national news our new 112th Congress seems to have trouble getting started. Might be just media spin, but talk is that the cuts the new folks promised during the campaign were “theoretical”. I have a couple of good suggestions that could make a difference, and these are not theoretical.

First each member of congress should vote to cut their office budgets and salaries and benefits by 10%. 2010 salary for members of Congress is 174,000, Minority and Majority Leaders earn 193,400 and Speaker of the House earns 223,500 dollars per year. This of course does not include benefits. There are 535 members of Congress. There are 100 Senators and 435 members in the House. There is also one non-voting member in the House for the District of Columbia.

So, while this will not make a big dent in the trillion dollar plus national deficit it will make a start. It will also show their commitment to balancing the budget on everyone’s back. Not just the taxpayers. Then if they will take their medical benefits and do away with them and work to get a National Health Care Plan that will work for everyone including members of Congress we can save some more money.

At the state level there are several things that might also be considered. Like maybe cutting some of the Governor’s chairpersons salary. Exactly what is the job description for a position with a salary cap of 192,500 dollars? How about some of the other state agency top positions? What do the top administrators at Texas or Texas A&M University make? How about clipping the football coaches’ salary 10%?

While our state representatives do not make the salaries the federal guys and gals do they still have operating budgets that could be cut. It is going to be interesting to see how they meet the need of the fastest growing state in the nation with no new revenue sources.

I have to admit that we are only in the first couple of days of the 112th Congress, but so far not much has changed. Two members have voted without being sworn in, and the D’s are pointing fingers at R’s and the TP’s seem to be lost in the same as usually action of Washington DC. We are also several days away from the start of the Texas legislative session, but there does not seem to be any real plan to relieve the state’s budget crisis. We need to wish them luck in DC and Austin, and just have to hope and pray that it is not business as usual.

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