Members of the Ohio Legislature have a base salary of $60,583. They are paid from $2,500 – $10,000 more for committee assignments. Any leadership position nets thousands more per year. They are paid mileage at least once a week during session to drive to and from home. They have a full health insurance benefit and of course the Public Employees’ Retirement System. They also have campaign funds that they use to reduce their personal expenses for cell phones, computers, cable service, meals and entertainment etc. A veritable slush fund if you will.
The average salary for an Ohio teacher is $56,307. You may recall the recent strife when the Reynoldsburg School District made a move to drastically cut benefits and I can tell you from personal experience that health insurance benefits for teachers have radically changed in the last ten years — not to the benefit of teachers. And the State Teachers’ Retirement System has been jockeyed around by the state legislature until teachers have been put into a position of bargaining and positioning against retirement.
Oh ho, you say! Teachers do not work year-round. I invite you to review the legislative session calendar. They are gone weeks before school breaks and they don’t come back on the first Monday after the holiday. Despite the occasional lawyer amongst them, they are often people with a minimal college degree. Far, far too many of them are career public employees who wouldn’t recognize the private sector if it hit them on the nose. (Witness my own state senator, Kris “girls are just like that” Jordan.)
Yet these part-time working, full-time earning denizens of the public good are, once again, reviewing teachers’ salaries. House Bill 343, now before the Ohio House Education Committee would once again strip teachers’ salaries. The old “merit pay” argument. They say, “gee, some teachers aren’t very good, so why should they make as much money?” How about this boys and girls: some of you aren’t very good legislators (I call your attention to the barely literate vice chair of the House education committee, Andrew “I love the tea party and I’ve got your phone number” Brenner. I don’t think you should make as much money as a good legislator. In fact, I think you should receive merit-based compensation. And since you are ALL paid with my tax money, I’ll decide who merits what.