Today was a difficult day. I work for the State Government. Our newly elected Governor gave his first budget presentation today. Rumors have been flying for several weeks that state employees were going to be furloughed, that we are going to have to pay more for our benefits, that we might have layoffs. This afternoon was the announcement that we are all going to take an 8% cut in our pay and pay more for our benefits. The expected net decrease in our pay is 10%. This means that our payscales are being reversed by 7 years. We will be making today what we made in 2002. And yes, I realize that we are still employed. But this may not be the end. If revenues continue to tank, they will cut more. Not layoffs, more paycuts.
This will hurt my lifestyle, but ultimately I think we'll be okay. There will definitely be less activities going on, but we'll still have our house, our food, and so on. But I worry about those that are alreay so close to the edge. We have employees that work for the state that make $17000 a year. Can you imagine living on that? That is roughly my mortgage payment for one year. A $1700 cut in their pay means $130 less in their paycheck every month. That's the gas they need to get to and from these jobs. That could be groceries on their table. At some point, working becomes pointless...why struggle so hard to work when you can go on welfare and live better?
I am angry...not simply because we are experiencing this cut in pay, but because I don't see our elected officials taking the necessary steps to handle this crisis. There are other alternatives that would allow the pay cut to be reduced, including reducing salaries for our legislators. Our legislators are part time legislators, meaning that they are only in session for 6 months out of the year, and then work other jobs the rest of the year. They make $42000 a year as a legislator. That's $3200 a month if you spread it out over the whole year (26 pays) ...but they only work for 6 months. That means they earn $7000 a month. That's $160 a day if they work 10 days every two weeks. An 8% pay cut for them means they still make $6300 a month. And seriously, one legislative committee met for 50 minutes the other day to debate whether walkie-talkies should be held to the same standards as cell phones when people are driving, and who should be exempt from such legislation. That means we paid each of these members $20 to sit and debate this topic. And guess what the consensus was? We have to do more investigating.
I chose to go work for the state and be a public servant knowing that the pay sucked. But the benefits and job security made it worthwhile. State workers are up there with lawyers as far as people disparaging the jobs we do. As in every organization, there are those employees that do not live up to the standards. However, the majority of state workers are dedicated, hard working employees. And we are about to be callously stepped on by those that were elected to protect us.
There are so many things happening in our country today that I don't agree with...it makes me sad and nervous for our future, and the future we are leaving for our children.