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Just say ‘no’ to teachers’ unions bill

The Savannah Morning News We encourage Georgia Congressmen John Barrow and Jack Kingston to vote “no” on proposed legislation to spend $23 billion to help powerful teachers’ unions. The so-called “Keep Our Educators Working Act” should be named “The Payoff to Democratic-leaning Unions in California, Illinois and New Jersey Act.” As proposed by its sponsors, U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, U.S. taxpayers would send billions of dollars that the treasury doesn’t have to states where teachers face job layoffs. Education Secretary Arne Duncan supports the measure, calling the situation “an emergency” for students who will find themselves in more crowded classrooms next fall. Mr. Duncan is right about one thing. This is an emergency. It’s an emergency for states and school districts that have lived beyond their means, often by pandering to teachers’ unions by awarding big contracts and generous benefits. They’re now in big trouble – and they want taxpayers nationwide to bail them out. But this isn’t Washington’s job. States and local governments cover most school costs. Take Chatham County, for example. Here, the school board is looking at a combination of cost cuts and a small property tax hike to balance next year’s budget. School boards must fix their own problems, not look to Uncle Sam for easy money. In fact, giving some school districts federal dollars will exacerbate their problems – it allows them to avoid making tough decisions. At least a third of the $100 billion that Mr. Duncan’s department received during last year’s stimulus package remains unspent, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. With that money still on the table, Mr. Barrow and Mr. Kingston shouldn’t vote to add more red ink to the fast-growing deficit.

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