A prominent story in the RTD yesterday was on the pay discrepancy between the Clerk of the State Senate, Susan Schaar, and the Clerk of the House of Delegates, Paul Nardo. The article draws the distinction that Ms. Schaar has been on her job for 27 years, and Mr. Nardo only 5 ½ years. Ms. Schaar is paid $175,000 annually and Mr. Nardo $ 194,000 a year. The conclusion in the comparison is of course one that the left has pounded for some time now ….pay inequality between the genders. No explanation is given , no mention of education or any other qualifications between the two, we are to automatically assume that this is yet another example of the injustice visited upon this dutiful civil servant that can be remedied by good ol’ Tommy riding in on his white horse ( or jackass ) to offer up a legislative fix for this. Nothing more than an astute pol who sees an opportunity to score a few political points with the low information crowd who have bought the argument that women are paid less for the same job, without taking into consideration the numerous and often repeated nuances that lend to what might appear on the surface to be pay inequality, but upon closer examination is anything but.
That wasn’t however what caught my attention when I read the article, it was the salaries themselves that almost knocked me out of my chair. How many of you out there earn $ 175,000–$194,000 a year , along with the compensation package of a very generous defined benefit pension plan ( paid for of course primarily by taxpayers) , paid sick leave, subsidized health insurance , subsidized dental insurance, subsidized disability insurance, 11-12 paid Federal holidays a year, very generous vacation etc etc etc. ?
Senator Norment is taking the position that these two state government workers should be paid more than we pay the Governor. 20 years in state politics must make people silly, but is that what is driving Norment’s public outcry ? I believe Norment recognized what a golden opportunity this was at taxpayer’s expense……. ( with Tommy it is always patrons of his like Dominion Virginia Power picking up the tab, or the SAP taxpayer ) to highlight his “ defense of equal pay for downtrodden women” when the reality is both Ms. Schaar & Mr Nardo are grossly overpaid. You have to go , or should have to go into the private sector to make this kind of dough, if you can even find a private sector job paying out these King’s salaries. I’ve numerous friends and acquaintances with advanced degrees at the top of their professions in the private sector barely breaking into 6 figures. What makes these state positions worth nearly $200,000 a year ? It is nothing more than apathetic citizens who have sat back in silence.
If one perhaps peruses any of the data bases to examine how many people in Virginia earn annual salaries over $175,000 a year you will find it a very small number.
Here in King William we are working on a compensation grid for county/school employees to have at the ready a much more accurate number as to what they actually earn. A teacher in one of our schools with 17 years of experience and a salary of $115,000 a year is just the tip of the spear. That same teacher has all of the other benefits, 11 paid federal holidays, 8 weeks vacation, a pension paid largely by taxpayers, subsidized group health, group life, group dental , group disability, 2 weeks off at Christmas, another week-10 days at Easter. What we are attempting to do is to attach a —–number—-to what all of those other benefits are worth. Many private sector companies for years have given their employees a very detailed and specific print out each January detailing just what their employers paid on their behalf. Many employees see this for the first time and are wowed by how much additional compensation they had received, yet didn’t appreciate. We are simply trying to do the same thing for public sector employees so taxpayers have the information to draw their own conclusions as to public employees pay packages in their total value. Upon the completion of this “ tool”, we will have a valuable means to combat the misinformation when public sector/school employees make statements about their pay each budget season. We want public sector & county employees to be treated fairly, we are just sick and tired of the misleading claims that they are terribly underpaid …it just ain’t so.
As an example ,not many folks are aware that single County employees here in King William county pay just 10% of their health insurance monthly premiums. Up until 18 months ago they paid 0%. Now in dollars and cents the number is around $55 a month these single county employees pay towards their costs, while taxpayers pick up the other $495 . So , say for instance you are self employed and are paying $600 a month for your own health insurance…..the generous folks like Tommy Norment and our Board of Supervisors think it is okay to ask me to pick up the 90% of a state/county employees health insurance premiums each month……what a guy !! I have to tote my own wagon ( $600 a month ) and carry their load too ! What a convoluted world people like Norment must live in.
If Tommy is of the mind to “ fix something” , maybe he might pick up the long overdue job of fixing Medicaid, consuming 1 out of every 5 dollars Virginia spends. Maybe Tommy might find time to address college education funding ( namely cutting it) since the G.A is so up in arms about the alarming trend in college costs.
Tommy Norment has had over 20 years to address the major issues confounding the state. Has he lead efforts to do anything about these major issues ? No, he chooses today however to use his bully pulpit to bloviate about a non -existent problem or worse, one of his own making.
Cut bloated government pay and bloated government compensation . Fix VRS, fix Medicaid, fix the crony state tax system. Stop wasting our time fixing imaginary problems that don’t exist to begin with.
Bob Shannon King William