Thursday, January 10, 2008

State of the State

So many lowlights from the State of the State address last night delivered from Governor Manchin. I was a little surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that he didn't appoint himself Offensive Coordinator of the West Virginia Mountaineers. But there were plenty of other things the governor addressed that I will tell you about:
  • Teachers. Oh, those teachers always wanting more money. 3.5% last year...3% this year. And a $400 bonus. Okay...well, that sounds alright. I think the teachers would gladly set aside this "bonus" for another 1% actual raise but, hey, it's money. But the $20 million in funds the governor wants to set aside as a "signing bonus" for teachers who are in higher demand is a powder keg. A teacher who receives a "signing bonus" is going to fulfill their obligation to meet the bonus (2-3 years or whatever) and then move on to a higher paying job if their salary isn't up-to-par. Wouldn't it make more sense to put that money into actual teacher's salaries to help shore up good teachers? And I cannot see how the teacher's unions are going to let this go. I see some serious longterm issues if this is really attempted.
  • Governor Manchin wants to "establish a commission to thoroughly review the anti-bullying practices of our schools." Are you serious? Biggest waste of money ever. You want to handle school issues? Give teachers and principals the authority to actually discipline students and have the local and state boards back up the personnel. There, study done.

And, lastly, this one is important enough not to bulletin -- the changes to the Promise Scholarship. Governor Manchin wants recipients to either work in state after graduation or pay back the Promise. Actually, this is pretty easy and I will address it with a quick letter for the Governor:

Governor, if you want people to stay in this state following graduation then do something to create jobs and create opportunities. You want people to stay in this state, cut taxes and help businesses. You want people to stay in this state, eliminate the business franchise tax.

Joe, have you been around the state lately? People aren't rich here. Maybe you have been hanging around athletics too long with Rich and Nick but most people don't make $2 to $4 million a year. People count on the Promise and, when they are finished with school, look for a good paying job. There aren't a lot of those being created in the State of West Virginia and you aren't doing enough to change that fact.

Threatening students who want to build better lives is not a solution to the state's real issues. Why punish those who are taking advantage of opportunities either in state or out? Most people who leave West Virginia really didn't want to but were forced to by the lack of good careers in this state. Change that first before you threaten those who use the Promise to better their lives.

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