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Question of the day

Friday, Sep 30, 2011

* First, a little background from the Bloomington Pantagraph

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka defended the raises for members of her staff during a stop at an animal shelter in Normal Wednesday morning.

A Chicago-based nonprofit group, the Better Government Association, criticized Topinka for providing raises of at least 3 percent to 56 employees.

“This is a small raise and we’re not talking about huge amounts of money,” she said. “Plus, we are down on our headcount by 24 people and $1.5 million.”

The raises for nonunion staffers were also based on an effort to create more parity with the unionized work force. Under existing contracts, those raises were set at 4.5 percent.

“I had all of these folks who for years have been working, working, working and I didn’t want to have to force them to join a union to get a raise,” she said.

* Now, on to the editorials. The Champaign News-Gazette

We’re broke, but here’s a raise

In Illinois, budget belt-tightening has a whole different meaning than is generally understood.

With the state effectively bankrupt, should top state elected officials be handing out pay raises to their staffs? […]

Here [is the reasoning]: The raises were given because employees took on new, more serious duties; the pay raises were given as a matter of equity because the employees had been previously underpaid; and the raises were given to nonunion employees because union employees had received raises.

Those explanations are reasonable. What’s unreasonable is handing out any raises in these offices when the state is effectively broke.

A floundering private business could never get away with this kind of money management. In the private sector, having no money means having no money. In the public sector, that doesn’t seem to be a problem — at least not in Illinois.

* State Journal-Register

This is a bit like the class valedictorian and student council president getting caught phoning in a bomb threat as a prank on their high school. Here we have the lone Republican constitutional officers, the ones who have preached fiscal responsibility to the point of advocating combining their offices to save money, doing the very thing that so drives taxpayers and good government groups crazy. […]

Sure, we get the excuses: Pay equity. Promotions. Adjusting for new duties, etc. But some of the raises handed out by Rutherford and Topinka seem at most excessive and at the very least, tone-deaf.

It doesn’t help public perception that news about these raises arrives only with help from the Freedom of Information Act or by good-government groups sifting through state data.

All the excuses in the world aren’t going to do anything to assuage voter anger, especially since some voters haven’t had raises in many years, and in many cases have seen pay and benefits shrink. Add in the fact that we are paying more taxes to help the state out of a fiscal crisis, and this move isn’t going to do anything to stem the ire when terms are up.

* Beloit, Wisconsin Daily News

Across the state line, the insanity continues. […]

The ill-timed raises demonstrate the obvious. Illinois’ leadership — pardon our gross misuse of that word — clearly is constitutionally incapable of exercising sound fiscal judgment.

Who knows? Maybe their rationale is to rake in a few final bucks before the state’s entire fiscal house of cards collapses. Chances are it’s too late to save this spend-happy state anyway. […]

Failure for years to deal with known problems landed Illinois in this fix. The only solution, eventually, may be the humiliation of bankruptcy. Really.

* Northwest Herald

Giving pay raises to state workers demonstrates political tone deafness. That was the case when Quinn did. It’s still the case now that Rutherford and Topinka have done it.

* Belleville News Democrat

They all have excuses and explanations for the new jobs and the big raises. But no way should they be doing this in the midst of a fiscal crisis. They’re supposed to be leading us out of this mess, but instead they are adding to the problem.

* The Question: Are editorial boards overreacting to these raises for non-union employees? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - D.P. Gumby - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:37 am:

    I’m not answering because the neither answer is appropriate. 1. Most of these editorials are hyperbole and overreaction–indeed, most editorials from these sources are most of the time; 2. Belleville & NW Herald quotes were rational; the others were not. JBT and Rutherford were stupid–they’ve been hanging around Quinn?

  2. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:41 am:

    Yes, of course, because people love to be outraged and they’re giving people what they want.

    Having said that, JBT, Rutherford, Quinn, et. al. should have frozen any salaries they could have in these times. It’s common-sense management. Some good people might have left, but there are plenty more waiting to get in.

  3. - Ghost of John Brown - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:42 am:

    If Topinka were giving out 15-20% raises to a select group of top staffers while everyone else got nothing - sure, that would be unreasonable. It looks like that is not the case. Seems like it is in line with inflation. We have way, way, way too much spending in Springfield, and we need to get a handle on it. 3% raises to 56 staffers doesn’t seem to be the place to look for it. Cry “wolf” too many times and people stop listening.

  4. - beserkr29 - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    Union workers got 35% hikes in wages over an 8 year period. 3 percent this once is horrific financial management? Editorials like these are terrible examples of rational discourse.

  5. - Layoff management first - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    The union raises were unfunded. Why is the state funding management raises, because they didn’t fund the union raises.

  6. - Ray del Camino - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    Yes, they’re over-reacting AND Rutherford/Baar-Topinka are displaying political tone-deafness.

  7. - spartanmeg - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    Of course the papers love to jump on the bandwagon of giving people stuff to be angry about. Here, any decent researcher would look into how many people have unionized exactly because the merit system does not result in raises. The only way to be rewarded for good work in the State comes from raises, which you only get if you are in a union. Even under better economic times, this was the case. Now, these employees are doing more work at the same (or less) pay. So sure, you can put it in a contract that does not get strictly scrutinized and have very minimal standards to receive the raise across the board, or you do a case-by-case assessment and give reasonable and appropriate raises. Topinka is in the right here and I think she provided an eloquent and reasonable explanation.

  8. - just sayin' - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    So Topinka tells us she used our tax dollars to basically buy people off from the idea of union organizing.

    I think that’s a bogus lie to begin with, but it’s amazing that even when the lie is more disturbing than the truth, that some politicians in this state still regularly get a pass.

    Bottom line, if you’re giving some of your staff 14% or 15% raises, can the drama about how worried you are about the state budget. You just become a bigger joke, if that’s possible.

  9. - Aldyth - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    Let’s have a corporation that is behind in paying its bills by billions of dollars. Let’s have that corporation give the accounting office raises, because dagnabit, those people deserve it.

    I deserve a raise, too. Maybe if Illinois would pay its bills, I could have one.

  10. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    What Wordslinger said.

    Yes, times are tough and it would be nice if everyone had a good job with annual raises, but that isn’t the case now, is it? So let’s bash those who are fortunate enough to get a raise, because that makes us feel better, right?

    Pitting the rest of the middle class against the public employees is now a parlor game. It’s almost as if we want to punish those who work for government at the same time we complain that they’re all a bunch of lazy dimwits. If you want good, talented employees, you have to pay them a decent wage. This is common knowledge in the business world. For all those who say government should be run more like a business, here’s a news flash for you: this is exactly what the private sector does. It rewards the employees it wishes to retain.

  11. - anon - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:51 am:

    yes, they are adding to this ridiculous environent of tearing down the government and those duly elected to run it at every opportunity. It is absolutely irresponsible and destructive. Try suggesting government cut back on the legal notices or eliminating their sales tax exemption for ink and watch these hippocrits howl.

  12. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:54 am:

    ===Let’s have that corporation give the accounting office raises, because dagnabit, those people deserve it.===

    Dude, what world do you live in? Corporations give raises to execs in good and bad times. Sometimes, they hand out truly huge raises and bonuses.

  13. - Ace Matson - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    Both offices have cut staff dramatically, so the people remaining should have a modest raise to do the extra work. The key fact is that total payroll in those offices is way down.

  14. - soccermom - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:02 pm:

    Here’s my philosophy: Never give anybody a stick to hit you with.

    These days, when so many people are losing jobs or taking pay cuts, the idea of the politically connected getting big raises is infuriating. If you really feel that you have to give raises or lose key personnel, then for heaven’s sake identify some budget offsets so you can at least show that you’re not imposing a greater burden on the taxpayers.

    And Topinka and Rutherford should have realized they were yielding a big political advantage in terms of “fiscal responsibility” with these raises. I’m not unhappy about that, but I’m kind of surprised.

  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:06 pm:

    === then for heaven’s sake identify some budget offsets===

    JBT, for one, did just that.

  16. - Irish - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:14 pm:

    “A floundering private business could never get away with this kind of money management. In the private sector, having no money means having no money.”

    These media folks seem to forget the truly obscene raises the upper level folks of the bailed out banks and financial institutions got a couple of years ago. I expected that to get much more play than it did in the MSM. But hey it is much easier and more in vogue to hammer on government workers than it is to question CEOS on Wall Street.

  17. - so... - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    This is ridiculous. I’m sure those same editorial boards (maybe not SJ-R) would also lament that fact that Illinois’ state government workforce is 96-99% unionized. The reason that number is so high is because the unionized workers tend to get automatic raises in rain or shine, surplus or deficit, while the non-union employees get screwed.

  18. - soccermom - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    Rich, I defer to your greater wisdom — but in that case, it seems to prove that there’s no way to do this kind of thing without getting socked by the media.

  19. - soccermom - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:32 pm:

    And from the Pantagraph story, it seems like she said her headcount was down — not that she was identifying new offsets. So the message to voter seems to be, “We saved you some money — but now we’re taking it back.”

  20. - Just Me - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:33 pm:

    They are definitely overacting. There are fewer people doing the same amount of work, and since the unions get raises, it is only fair. Kinda’ makes me sick that the editorial boards are complaining. Totally unfair. These aren’t like 30% raises, they are nominal.

  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===she said her headcount was down — not that she was identifying new offsets. ===

    Reducing headcount is an offset.

  22. - MCgone - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:51 pm:

    There appear to be 2 camps here. Those who ignore the facts about corporate raises/bonuses (i.e. Tribune Co) and those who know that pay freezes don’t freeze everyone’s pay the same. My nickname ID’s me.

  23. - x ace - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:52 pm:

    Natural Reaction - just as we should be outraged at private corporations losing big money or getting bailouts and then giving out Millions of Dollars in Bonuses to the Executives.

    It looks bad and sends a message of poor leadership and cronyism to the masses. Negative reaction is appropriate.

  24. - titan - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 12:53 pm:

    If she reduced staffing and overall payroll is down, then that looks like sound management to me.

    If yuo give 4 employees the work of 5, and they get less than a 25% raise, you’ve cut costs.

    The only really important thing is to reduce the total spending while still getting the work done, isn’t it?

  25. - Judgment Day - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:00 pm:

    I’d hope that both Judy Baar Topinka and Dan Rutherford would have been smart enough to realize they were going to get beaten over doing this.

    I can understand why they did it and I’m even cool with it in light of Quinn’s gamesmanship, but they should have understood this was going to be a gift to the MSM, where the media could express their righteous faux outrage over such actions.

    And Irish:
    “These media folks seem to forget the truly obscene raises the upper level folks of the bailed out banks and financial institutions got a couple of years ago. I expected that to get much more play than it did in the MSM. But hey it is much easier and more in vogue to hammer on government workers than it is to question CEOS on Wall Street.”

    Well, the MSM seems to have forgotten (hey, who do you think pays their bills), but speaking for myself and a lot of others out here who are neck deep in the mess the “Banksters” created certainly haven’t - and won’t.

    And btw, that seems to include a pretty substantial proportion of the “Tea Party” folks.

    They’re no friends of corporate America and the Wall Street financial types (which is a very good thing)..

  26. - The Captain - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:01 pm:

    There’s an element of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do here.

    Also worth noting, these raises were affordable in their first fiscal year because both the Comptroller’s office and the Treasurer’s office were understaffed at the end of their respective administrations. Many Hynes policy and legal staffers started leaving once the writing was on the wall and a small handful of Treasurer’s office employees were on leave for either the Giannoulias or Kelly campaigns. There were excess unspent funds in the payroll line items. Those budgets get harder to manage in year two.

  27. - Skeeter - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    Yes, I think it is a big deal. People are suffering. Taxes are going up. Government workers shouldn’t be getting any raises. If government workers don’t like the pay, let them leave and find a better job.

    Regarding the “offsets”: I’m not buying that. We are spending too much. JBT seems to think that if she cuts in one place, she should spend in another. No, that’s not how it works. We cut until it is balanced. We don’t raise just because we cut.

    When JBT ran against Blago, I didn’t vote in that race thinking that as bad as Blago was, JBT would not be much different. I was right. With JBT, we always have politics as usual.

  28. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    The problem is not two constitutional officers giving long overdue raises to a handfull of management employees. The problem is the AFSCME contract which gives something like 90% of all state employees nearly 35% in pay increases over an 8 year period. Nobody in today’s economy has fared half as well as Illinois’ AFSCME employees.

  29. - too obvious - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:15 pm:

    “Dude, what world do you live in? Corporations give raises to execs in good and bad times. Sometimes, they hand out truly huge raises and bonuses.”

    Um yeah, and A LOT of times they cut pay and perks and fire a lot of people.

    But what are we quibbling about, after all Rutherford’s only had 2 insider abuse scandals in his office in the 8 months he’s been treasurer. Gee whiz of course it should be raises all around. Silly taxpayers, how dare we complain.

    And re Topinka’s cutbacks. Let’s see the details. Give us the names of who is gone. And the cutbacks are compared to when exactly? Let’s see some numbers and dates.

    Sorry, but if that woman said the sun came up in the east today I would be skeptical.

  30. - Ahoy - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:17 pm:

    I believe JBT said her payroll was down $1.5 million. If true, that’s pretty darn good. I agree that you shouldn’t have to join a union to get a raise and keeping them happy and not joining a union probably makes good long term fiscal sense (especially given that these people are most likely in positions that should not be unionized like legislative liaisons and inner staff that serve as the discretion of the official).

    The backlash might not be so bad if they weren’t throwing so many bombs at the Democrats for spending too much…

    Rutherford can probably pay for the raises by not calling the banks to raise our State’s interest rates or by halting the use of taxpayer money to send campaign literature.

  31. - See the light! - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:23 pm:

    Look, the fact that State employees ARE doing more with less is completely ignored. Head count is down substantially from 10 years ago. Most State employees that I know are very hard working and dedicated people, even the ones who haven’t had raises in years. Also, not all State employees are politically connected (most are not). Most of the non-union employees (at least under the Governor) have had to take furlough days which is essentially a substantial pay CUT in the past couple of years. In addition, we are paying more for healthcare and more in taxes like everyone else, which amounts to another pay cut. We have families to support and most of us count our blessings every day that we are fortunate enough to be employed and to be able to come to work to assist the unemployed through the programs that incidentally our taxes help pay for too.

    In addition, while I’m on my soapbox, it is extremely aggravating that the State employees are deemed as partially to blame for the pension issues - the General Assembly hasn’t followed the law and fully funded the systems for years, yet who is going to pay now? We pay our share! Compare the State employee’s pension system to the members of the General Assembly’s system - talk about disparity!

  32. - sadie - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:24 pm:

    skeeter - don’t think you want the professionals to leave - we bring in hundreds of millions of federal dollars and keep things running. We mess up = no federal $ and the services they buy. Illinois needs to develop a fair and sane strategy of paying staff - including the small number of merit comp who are left - we are being courted by the union - and that would be the only way we get an increase - essentially we got 0 in the 1990’s and the past years - plus many of us are paid with federal money

  33. - Team Sleep - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:24 pm:

    I voted yes, but to me it’s both. No because the editorial boards sense blood in the water and see that the general public isn’t happy. Yes because they are foaming at the mouth over a matter that must be put in context. If JBT’s payroll truly was that far under her “salary cap” - nice little NFL terminology - then there’s nothing wrong with bumping up a few salaries. What would the ed boards rather her and Dan do - buy a fleet of hybrid Ford Escapes?! Tee-hee.

  34. - Lulabell - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:25 pm:

    This is a hard one. While the rationale makes sense its about preception. Rutherford and JBT have been so quick to criticize the Dems about all the fiscal meyhem in the state so this doesnt look right….although I do think it remains unfair that non Union employees go for so long without raises of anykind.

  35. - Ghost - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:29 pm:

    Editorial boards talk about the State acting like a private buisness…so lets review:

    Tribune: in actual bankruptcy. Recieved authority from bankruptcy court to pay millions in bonuses to management staff to keep them on board. Noted it was cirtical to keep your managers for effective operations.

    Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citibank etc etc… all went bankrupt and crashed the world economy. reposinble for all the problems we havenow. Paid millions in bonuses and perks to managers while borrowingbillions from the govenrment to keep then afloat.

    it apears that if you want to maintain operations in bad times one of the critical components is keeping your managers, and paying them to stay,. Apparently tossing out those who now how the operation works and keeping it oging s a bad idea. it also appears in the private sector when times are tough and managers are drawn on to a higher degree they are provided extra compensation.

    I hope the tribune editorial board, most of who recived bonuses while they are bankrupt, noted thisas well citing themselves as an example of why it is ok to take care of the people who are important fro operations.

  36. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    The solution, of course, is to continue to unionize the state staff so that elected officials can blame “the contract” rather than take personal responsibility for the raises. It’s an overreaction if overall office expenses are declining, but that’s a big “if”…and such nuances don’t make for a good story.

  37. - Wumpus - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:36 pm:

    WHy didn’t she not give raises and save one job

    If they make an avg of $40k, a 3% raise would be roughly $1200. $1200 x 24 = 28800, one or two part time employees! Okay, I am goofing. bad time to do this, but not as bad as quinn.

    She should not have given the raises, but this is not a reason to have a ConCon to debate a recall.

  38. - JustMe - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:43 pm:

    Overreacting. There are a lot of merit comp employees making less than the unionized employees they supervise. They can’t be replaced at the same salary — who would take a job under those conditions? — and what does it do to morale when you pay market rates for a new hire while giving the experienced workers hanging? As each one leaves or retires, it makes it that much worse for the ones who are left. If the constitutional officers had had the intelligence or intestinal fortitude to give merit comp small, consistent raises over the last 8 years, they wouldn’t be in the position they are now, and every year they put off trying to make things right just digs them in a deeper hole. Agencies under the Governor are going to crash before his term is up, no matter what he tries to do now, so don’t blame the Treasurer, Comptroller or SOS (who has also given raises) for not going down the same path.

  39. - Skeeter - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    With all due respect, if you don’t like things, you can leave and 50 people will be in line to do your job cheaper and just as well.
    If you can get paid as well in the private sector, take. Please don’t suffer just for me.

  40. - Shemp - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    Tough call. This state has intentionally treated non-union employees so poorly while protecting union employees that it’s hard to fault a 3% increase. Not impossible to find fault, but hard. More of this state’s past sins coming back to haunt.

  41. - sadie - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    Skeeter - got one more year - so no - however I will make a great deal more in the private sector when I leave - if I had been less dedicated to what I do as many of us are - I would have taken the $150,000 in 2004 and be making a great deal more than that now

  42. - Old Milwaukee - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:53 pm:

    It’s a shame for non-union state employees that their bosses have to be concerned with a media backlash every time they look to try to keep good people in state government, while the unions (except this year, so far) get their regualr 2,3 or 4% COLAs, their step increases, their longevity pay and whatever else pay raises they get with very little backlash.

    Why anyone would want to work in state government these days is a riddle to me.

  43. - Anon - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 1:59 pm:

    Over-reacting. I’m in much the same boat. I was underpaid when I hired on three years ago (but I liked the job so I was willing to take the position) but haven’t seen a raise since. What do I mean by “underpaid?” Others at the state doing what I do easily make $25,000/yr more than me. Now imagine me getting a $10,000 raise. I would still be well short of parity with my brethren yet , we would be having this discussion about me instead. How is that right?

    “If government workers don’t like the pay, let them leave and find a better job.” That sounds good on the surface, but think about it for a second. Remember the old adage “You get what you pay for.” At the moment, the State (and you taxpayers) are getting from me way more than you’re paying for. Replace me with someone who’s worth what I’m getting paid, and (a) you haven’t saved any money and (b) the State is ultimately worse off.

  44. - Just the Facts - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    Of course the newspapers are overreacting. As JBT indicated she has reduced headcount and reduced payroll. Government needs to attract and retain competent non-union supervisory employees. In addition, those persons have to be paid fairly so that they can be retained and also so that they don’t find themselves motivated to join a union in order to be fairly compensated.

    The unionization of supervisory and professional employees is state government that occurred under Blago is going to be one of his most long-lasting and damaging legacies. Kudos to JBT and Rutherford for understanding that one way to avoid that same fate in their offices is to try to fairly compensate non-union employees. They are both doing what leaders do. They do the right thing even in the face of critics. JBT isn’t politically “tone deaf.” I suspect she anticipated the editorials and decided that she would do what is right.

    By the way, why no “expose” about the Secretary of State’s office? As I understand it, Secretary White, to his credit, has also continued to fairly compensate his non-union employees by giving them the occasional raise.

  45. - Dirt Digger - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:12 pm:

    Oh no the staff managing a $6 billion cookie jar got raises. Fetch the pitchforks and salt.

    Pay raise demagoguery is one of the dumbest attacks I deal with and it infuriates me that it works with voters.

  46. - Moderate REpub - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    Its irresponsible for the ed boards not to state that 96% of the state’s workforce has received some of the largest union raises in the nation every year since Blago has taken office. Over the past 8 years a state employee could have gone from making $30,000 to making $50,000 just with raises, step and merit, and anniversary increases.

    Its ridiculous not to mention at least this year’s schedule for raises for union employees compared to these one-time small raises to this small percentage of the workforce that hasn’t received any raise - in many cases for the the past 5 to 7 years.

    I am not against unions, but the only people left not in a union are some managers and policy decision makers. By law they shouldn’t be part of a collective bargaining unit - in fact some union members shouldn’t be in a union and wouldn’t have petitioned to be in one if they were treated in the same manner the bulk of the work force is.

  47. - Victor Kingston - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:15 pm:

    Heaven help that an intelligent, hard working, devoted individual receive a promotion and an increase in pay. At what point did we stop believing that those things should be rewarded? The consensus seems to be that “Well times are hard in the private sector, they should be in the public sector”. Which is a lower all ships mentality that doesn’t make things better in either place.

    I thought this was supposed to be a country where you worked hard and expected to be rewarded by your employer, no matter what sector you were in. Apparently now we’ve just decided to cannibalize each other out of spite and frustration.

  48. - zatoichi - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:33 pm:

    There would be people complaining if they found state workers do not sharpen the pencils down to 2 inches. Give it a rest. JBT cuts $1.5M and uses some of the money for raises for staff who have not had a raise in several years. I’m not a fan, but good for her. There has been a huge brain drain at the state and having people who know how to work the system is important. If she can do the job with fewer people, paying the ones who get the work done a little more is no big deal. And I am sure all those papers are fabulous examples of economic success.

  49. - jerry 101 - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:54 pm:

    Hmmm…So Judy cut 24 staffers, saving $1.5 million, and gave the remaining 56 staffers 3% raises. If one assumes that the salaries earned by the remaining 56 are, on average, identical to the salaries of the eliminated positions, it works out to $62,500 per position.

    A 3% for someone making $62,500 is $1875.
    For 56 people, that works out to $105,000.

    So, she cut $1.5 million from her budget, and gave the 56 people (who now have A LOT more work to do, seeing as how about 1/3rd of their coworkers are gone) a raise totaling $105,000. Basic math says that she cut a net $1.4 million from her budget.

    Hmmmm…I guess the editorial boards of certain state newspapers aren’t very good at either math or management. If you increase someone’s workload by, I don’t know, 1/3rd, you might want to give them a raise before they get overwhelmed and quit. Especially if they haven’t had a raise in a few years.

    and BIG RAISES? Really Belleville? 3%?!? Personally, I’d still bail, but at least 3% is something. A paltry something, but something.

    Good fiscal management isn’t about just freezing pay and cutting everything to the bone. There’s a huge cost to be paid for doing things like that, as it hollows out the organization, and quickly causes total breakdown. Good fiscal management is getting rid of the excess, and carefully managing the rest. Is it any wonder why print media is going through it’s death rattle? They’re a perfect example of what happens when you cut too much, too deeply. The whole ship goes down.

  50. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 2:59 pm:

    jerry 101, fair warning, I’m stealing some of your ideas.

  51. - PaGo - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 3:09 pm:

    As a non-union worker who knows something about this, I think you know how I voted.

  52. - Poilitical Junkie - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 3:12 pm:

    Jerry 101 I couldnt have said it better

  53. - soccermom - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 3:22 pm:

    Do keep in mind - most of these newsrooms have been devastated by layoffs, and the folks who are left behind are overwhelmed by the resulting increase in their workload. So they’re not likely to be swayed by Jerry 101’s arguments, solid though they may be.

  54. - reformer - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 3:23 pm:

    The hypocrisy factor is a reason to hold Dan and Judy’s feet to the fire. Quinn got roundly bashed when he gave raises to promoted staff who took on more responsibilities. The GOP cut him no slack.

    After indulging in pay raise demagoguery when Quinn was the target, Republicans can’t expect the benefit of the doubt now.

  55. - walkinfool - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    Yes. It comes down to a classic dilemma for public servants: good management, and saving money, versus what looks good politically at first glance.
    Too bad (and ironic) that editorial boards often don’t take the time to research/fact-
    check issues that good reporters do.

  56. - matty - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 4:07 pm:

    i know in district office staff is payed out of the “district office alotment” - which means those funds can be used as deemed necessary. In this case, someone could get $5K raise in one year without costing the state any more money because the funds for the office are not increasing.

    I wonder if this is the case at Topinka’s office??? If so, these reporters need to go back to school…

  57. - JustMe - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 4:18 pm:

    ==Quinn got roundly bashed when he gave raises to promoted staff who took on more responsibilities.==

    Quinn gave big raises only to budget office people, not all of whom took on extra work, while totally freezing the pay of merit comp employees in the agencies who were already taking mandatory furlough days. Then, when the story got out, his immediate reaction was to double the furlough days. That little incident is a major reason I predicted in my earlier post that a lot of the agencies are going to crash before the end of Quinn’s term — how is he going to keep any of them from joining the union or leaving as soon as they can, or replace any of them that leave?

  58. - SgtSchultz - Friday, Sep 30, 11 @ 5:01 pm:

    Definitely over-reacting. Experience and expertise should be compensated - that’s how a smart business maintains good employees, no? Enough with the buffonery that state employees are .. er.. buffoons.

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