Raise for D.C. teachers is budgetary suicide

Raise for D.C. teachers is budgetary suicide
June 3, 2010

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has estimated that as many as 100,000 teachers may face layoffs in the coming year. The District announced this week that its new budget would include a 22 percent salary increase for public school teachers through 2012 ("D.C. teachers get raises, accept merit pay in pact," News, Web, Wednesday).

So what is Washington's secret formula for budgetary success? Borrow a lot more money and hope you're out of office before the whole thing goes down in flames.

The budget, aptly referred to in The Washington Post as the "crash-and-burn budget," includes a $5.3 billion spending plan with plenty to go around. The plan is a surefire way to artificially increase government reach and control. The inevitable fiscal collapse later will be used to justify more tax increases and deficit spending.

While this is standard operating procedure for bureaucracies nationwide, it is not the best or most efficient way to run a government. Budget cuts (including removing the 22 percent increase in teachers salaries) could rein in deficit spending and create long-term fiscal stability. Increasing school choice initiatives has proved to be an effective way to cut public spending and increase achievement, leading to long-term economic success.

MARC OESTREICH

Education legislative specialist

The Heartland Institute

Chicago

This letter to the editor was originally posted in the Washington Times