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News From Our Capital: By Delegate Brent Boggs

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In this weeks edition:

Difficult times...
I have watched the news this week, both locally and statewide regarding the dilemma of educators and state workers. Let me say upfront that I wholeheartedly support teachers making more money. They have an often thankless job that is crucial to many aspects of our lives and future.
I consider the services teachers provide as vital services to say the least. In that respect, I don’t agree with work stoppage as a way to get their point across. I simply believe there is too much collateral damage. Now I realize this is a sensitive issue in our community. I am not naive enough to think everyone is going to agree with me or that I am going to change their minds. However, in all the years I have been behind this desk I have facilitated and fought for free speech and I have a right to my opinion as you do yours, even if we don’t agree. I firmly believe civil discussion of sensitive issues is productive.
Case in point… our local teachers decided last week that they were not going to work in their classrooms on Monday (today). Instead they would go to Charleston and have their voices heard. Then the heads of their unions decided that there is going to be a state-wide work stoppage on Thursday and Friday. Bottom line... our students lose three days of their education. Sorry, but I don’t feel that is right. I seriously doubt that local educators went to Charleston in numbers on Monday. Unfortunately, I doubt that it would have done them any good in light of how the Senate treated educators last week. Its deplorable, when elected officials think they are not answerable to those who elected them. That is what has happened in Charleston.
I don’t care whether its democrats or republicans, when those we elect think they know what is best for us and that they are not answerable for their actions, something has to change.
While I support better pay for teachers, State Police and Correctional officers etc., we have to have more accountability. These same unions and legislators have gotten the laws so fouled up that it is difficult and nearly impossible to get rid of people who don’t do their job. That is also wrong and needs fixed. It’s not that way in the private sector. State employees can’t have it both ways. Example: most companies drug test their employees. Why not teachers, law enforcement officers and other state employees?
Insurance is also a different matter. I hear the argument that there is no pay increases and the premiums go up. Believe me I know it. I deal with it every day in my business and personal life. And I think that’s true of anyone not in state employment. In fact, I would gladly trade a $400 to $600 premium and the benefits of PEIA for the $1,600 a month that I pay for Jeanine’s insurance. And… there is no alternative to the ridiculous rates. Fortunately for me, getting old has its perks…. at least in the insurance cost department.
So there is good and bad to most aspects of any argument. This one is no exception. I don’t have the answers, but I do know this much… emotions must be kept in check. Legislators have to be held accountable. We didn’t get in this mess overnight and anyone who thinks we can fix it in one foul swoop is sadly mistaken.

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