"One who increases his possessions by usury and extortion
Gathers it for him who will pity the poor."
Good grief; from this week's Austin Chronicle:
At the April 25 board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley presented the draft $1.3 billion budget for the 2016-17 school year. In it, the administration proposes two salary changes: a 3% across-the-board pay raise for all staff, and a $13/hour minimum wage. The raise will be the second biggest driver of the budget increase this year, with a price tag of $15 million. Add on the minimum wage increase, worth another $1.4 million in employee salaries, and the district is looking at an increase of $16.4 million in spending on pay.Read the whole thing here.
But Education Austin President Ken Zarifis argues that it's nowhere near enough. The union has a counter-proposal that it's calling "four and four" – a 4% raise for all employees for the 2016-17 school year, with a guarantee of a 4% increase for 2017-18. If the board can't deliver that cumulative 8.16% increase over two years, the union is asking for 5% this year.
Zarifis argues that the money is there. "We've done 3 percent when things were really hard," he said. And the district was already proposing a 3% raise before the county reported a 15% increase in appraisals. Now that the draft budget has gone from a $24 million deficit a month ago to a $15 million surplus, the district is obligated to give something back to teachers who see their own tax bills rising. Zarifis said, "That money must go into the system and into their pockets."
If the board goes ahead with the administration's plan, this would be the third consecutive year with a pay raise. In 2014, after several years of wage stagnation and one-off payments, salaries rose 2%, followed by a 3% boost last year.
Zarifis said he doesn't blame the board for the soaring cost of living in Austin. But he argues that it's their responsibility to respond to it, and he's already seeing some support. Trustee Gina Hinojosa told staff during the board meeting that she would at least want to see calculations about what "four and four" or the 5% would mean for the overall budget. Similarly, Trustee Jayme Mathias, who has called teacher compensation "a social justice issue," said he was particularly concerned about only going with a 3% increase when surrounding districts are considering anything up to 5% this year.