Sen. Ray Holmberg letter: Critic of Legislature ignores successes
In a Forum article published on Jan. 7, Erin Mowers said: "Teachers need to be a priority. The Legislature needs to do what it takes, even if it means raising taxes." This was in response to a proposed $1,500 increase in compensation for teachers...
In a Forum article published on Jan. 7, Erin Mowers said: "Teachers need to be a priority. The Legislature needs to do what it takes, even if it means raising taxes." This was in response to a proposed $1,500 increase in compensation for teachers included in Governor Hoeven's budget.
It was therefore with disappointed that I read Mowers' recent letter to the editor. She expresses her outrage over the "Legislature's lousy work." She focused on one small aspect of the state budget which was reduced (loan forgiveness for new teachers). She neglected the big picture by failing to acknowledge that because of the work of this recent session, it was possible for Mowers and other Fargo teachers to receive an average salary increase over the next two years of over $4,300. West Fargo recently settled on a 12.5 percent increase for their teachers. The Grand Forks school board has recently offered its teachers a 9.6 percent increase over the same period of time, an average of $4,700 per teacher.
It's all about priorities. The last session wanted to control state spending to keep us from having the types of budget "meltdown" that most states have experienced. That included some reductions but at the same time, increases in a number of areas. Over $32 million of new money was appropriated for elementary and secondary education. We accomplished the goal of raising teacher compensation without resorting to a tax increase.
That's not "lousy work," that's pretty good work, and our teachers deserve it. I would also suggest that there are a lot of taxpayers who would like those "lousy" kind of salary increases.
Sen. Ray Holmberg
Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee
R-Grand Forks, N.D.