The U.S. House passed on Tuesday and rushed to President Barack Obama for his signature a $26 billion jobs bill that includes $10 billion to save some 160,000 public education teachers from layoffs.
We are strong supporters of education, but we're not so sure this move was entirely necessary and will add even more to the national debt.
The bill was rushed through to allow the paperwork to be filed to allow school districts to rehire laid-off teach-ers in time for this upcoming school year.
Layoffs are a common occurrence in Minnesota. Because of notice provi-sions in teacher contracts, school dis-tricts -- unsure of their financial situa-tion until the Legislature ad-journs -- issues teacher layoffs in March or Ap-ril. Once the picture is clearer, most are usually hired back by the start of school. Not a good system, but it works.
On a national level, it should be state and local school board decisions to hire and rehire teachers, depending on financial resources, Education has been spared to a large degree as states put high emphasis on education.
In Minnesota, we struggle with delayed school payments from the state, but there have not been massive layoffs.
The rush by the federal government to secure funding to save teachers seems like a favor to teacher unions, and smacks of a bailout not unlike the banks, GM, or any of an assortment of "too big to fail" groups. Unions need not be a part of that group.
It also sets a bad precedence for other groups who think they are "too big to fail." What of railroad workers? College professors? Police officers?
The funding would come from food stamp benefits to the poor, which makes it seem even more unrealistic.
Some $16 billion of the jobs bill would benefit the poor, used to extend for six months increased Medicaid payments to the states. That provision seems to make more sense and actually does help those most in need, and help states without the ability to fund such programs, such as Minnesota.