Howie Carr recently detailed some results from a Massachusetts inspector general report looking into the goldmine of unused sick time in the public sector, including some of the arguments for lavish pay and benefits. Here’s a particularly trenchant juxtaposition:
On page 8: “(We must) pay a reasonable salary to the staff we have so that we could retain them.”
On page 13: Inability to promote younger hacks because “the only opportunities for advancement come about when someone leaves, which is an extremely rare event.”
Both of the above can’t be true. Either they’re leaving because they’re not getting paid enough or the jobs are so great that vacancies are “extremely rare.” Lack of turnover — it’s not a terribly pressing problem most places in the DPS like, say, the food court at your local mall.
When the Tiverton School Committee appeared before the Budget Committee last year and complained that its teachers are among the lowest-paid in the state, I asked how difficult the district finds it to be to fill positions. Frankly, I don’t think most people involved with state or local government understand why those two points should even be connected.
As with other negotiations in which local government engages, people in office tend to negotiate against some abstract vision rather than with a focus on their constituents’ interests. Without a profit motive, as private entities and businesses have, and with an apathetic electorate, they have no incentive to pull very hard in the tug of war.