Ray Bacon: A healthy private sector makes a healthy public sector

I often don't agree with what Eugene Paslov writes in his columns. I have known and liked him over 20 years.

His latest column on political conspiracies is off base. Paslov says, "Most politicians are not focused enough to be able to plan and make the conspiracy work over time."

Paslov thought it strange when Gov. Brian Sandoval attacked unions during his campaign. Nevada has a strong public sector union movement with the teachers' union - NSEA - leading the way. Compare the NAEP data (www.nationsreportcard.gov ) for Nevada to confirm our kids score near the bottom. As a member of the Gibbons' Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education Reform, the group agreed to stop giving excuses and acknowledge our lackluster performance. We decided Nevada has 437,000 children in schools whom deserve better than the low education performance we provide them now.

The governor went after teacher unions. He proposed ending tenure, advocated vouchers, mentioned performance pay, stopping social promotion and using data-driven information to hold teachers and administrators accountable for school and student performance. He read our final report and the "Race to the Top" application. He said public employees should expect salary reductions. Paslov called them draconian cuts, but anyone can suck up 5 to 10 percent when so many have no paychecks.

Fair? Doubtful was Paslov's comment. My question is realistic? Absolutely and reasoned.

Paslov wrote, "There appears to be much misinformation about public employee wage and benefits, with little attempt to determine the actual facts. For example, wages tend to be lower for public employees, who are generally better educated than comparable workers in the private sector."

Please view www.transparent

nevada.org for the facts. Remember public employees draw pensions in some cases all paid at taxpayer expense.

Paslov implied the Republican governors have conspiracy. I suggest they looked at the numbers and performance then proposed balanced budgets with the least damage possible.

Respected columnist Peggy Noonan had a clip in the March 5 Wall Street Journal called "Public Unions Get Too Friendly." It is worth reading. It points out good people from both parties looked at the numbers and data and agree on the magnitude of the problems. They still differ on solutions, but not the problems.

Paslov notes the attack on collective bargaining rights with a laundry list of school system controlling issues beyond salaries and benefits. Many governors see those as barriers to paying the most effective teachers their worth and removing the least effective. Data shows this would improve schools, teachers, students and have less impact on taxpayers. The news seldom mentions governors want to stop collecting union dues as payroll deductions. Much of the mess in Madison is about disrupting the cash flow to the union bosses.

Often people of good will like Paslov fail to remember it requires a healthy private sector paying taxes to have a viable and healthy public sector. Right now in Nevada and much of the nation neither is healthy. If you don't believe it takes a healthy private sector, please visit any of Nevada's many ghost towns.

• Ray Bacon is a Minden resident.


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