Friday, May 6, 2011

Does our service really mean nothing?

Hi Governor.

I thought I would tell you what it is like to be a state employee these days. Your rhetoric has business owners in this state convinced that public employees are the devil.

I had a woman get into an argument with me at the gas station, telling me that since I didn't own a business, I didn't know what it was like to pay taxes. Can you make this stop, please?

The problem with your plan to have all state employees contribute much more (not modest by any stretch) to our pension and healthcare, is that it assumes that we were all making great livings to begin with. I started as a part-time instructor at a state school in 2000. I worked my way up to being a full-time instructor and then my department told me that they would have to let me go if I didn't earn a PhD. So, guess what I did? I went to UW-Milwaukee and paid full tuition to earn my degree. (Did you know that most state schools give their employees a significant discount on tuition? In Illinois, you can earn your degree for free as an employee. Many others allow children of employees these discounts. Not Wisconsin.)

I now have $35,000 of student loans and a base salary of less than $50,000. This is for a job that requires a PHD, Governor. Just think how little our janitors make. And you are asking all of us to pay exactly the same. My friend who is a janitor firmly believes he will lose his house. How will he be able to eat over $3,000 in additional expenditures when he only makes around $20,000 to begin with?

And then there's the capping of the salaries. You assume again that all state employees are paid handsomely. There are business professors at my university who make very nice livings. Ironically, they are also the Republicans. My entire department has wages that have fallen far below the national average. Your capping to the CPI basically says, "There is no hope. You will never receive a decent salary in your job, no matter how long or hard you work."

I play a vital role in our state's economy educating our college students and preparing them for Wisconsin's "open for business policy", but I am certainly not getting any respect for it. You constantly referred to me as a "have," during your campaign, Governor. Why? Because the people at McDonalds make a lot less than me? I could make $30,000 MORE in the private sector. Many nasty people online have told me that I should stop "sucking on the public teat and get a real job." Is that what we really are all to do, Governor? Does our service really mean nothing? Because that's what it feels like right now.

I would really appreciate a response to this email. I believe I am owed that much.

Kathy Brady
State employee

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