Letters to the editor: Feb. 6, 2018

Re: Feb. 2 article, “2018 deficit means another lean year for Austin teachers making $50K.”

As a retired fifth-grade teacher from the Austin Independent School District, I read the recent article on salaries with great interest. The reporter neglected to factor in one of the greatest benefits Austin ISD teachers receive: Social Security.

When we retire from Austin ISD, we receive teacher retirement and Social Security. The combination of these two retirement plans afford us a substantial monthly income. I do not know of any other district in the area that provides these two wonderful assets.

I realize that funds are removed from our paychecks, though the district contributes funds as well, making employment with Austin ISD even more attractive. After 10 years of retirement, I still feel fortunate to have worked at Odom Elementary, not only for the experiences I had but additionally the knowledge knowing I would retire with a decent income.


We fondly remember a teacher who had a profound effect on our lives. They gave us hope, uplifted our spirits and shaped our future.

When they have reached retirement age — after decades of working at low pay — it is only appropriate that they receive appropriate rewards for their efforts. Certainly, the men and women in the Texas Legislature know this; almost all of them were educated in Texas’ public schools.

It is deeply saddening then when they turn on those that served them. However, they have. I completed 32 years of service, retiring 13 years ago. I was just notified that my health premiums increased 116 percent annually, over $300 monthly.

How could the members of the Legislature do this to those to whom so much is owed? My only assumption is that they put money ahead of honor, today’s students and the future of our state.


Re: Jan. 31 commentary, “Paid sick leave plan needs more focus on financial impact.”

There was an interesting statement made in the guest commentary about input on required paid sick leave co-written by Ellen Wood, co-founder of vcfo, and Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Cafe.

They complained that they didn’t have enough time — three weeks — to respond to the City Council.

But first, with regards to paid sick leave, it’s just the right thing to do. I’m tired of mediocre business people who complain about the rules and regulations. These are meant for the common good. Sorry, it’s not all about you!

Good business people go with the flow and figure it out. Great business people learn how to thrive regardless of what is required of them.

As for his ability to have his voice heard, you wrote an editorial. And I have had my voice heard with this letter.

Just one more thing for me to share my input on: I will frequent businesses that treat their workers right.


As a Texan and someone who deeply cares about the strength of our democracy, I think it is time that you elected officials do your jobs and hold the Republicans in Congress and the White House accountable to the American people, not just to your preferred constituencies.

Legislation must be drawn up and passed that prohibits gerrymandering, so that a true accounting of the will of all Americans can be made — and not just the wealthy elite. We must protect those from other countries who are coming here looking for a better life. We must stop discriminating in our policies on religious grounds. We must honor the separation of powers enumerated in the Constitution. We must stop kowtowing to the big business and corporate interests that have turned our legislative system into a highest bidder free-for-all.

Do your jobs and do them now — or you will not be re-elected.


Re: Jan. 29 article, “Oil boom provides new edge for U.S. in energy, diplomacy.”

The article says that the nation is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil output. Most of the oil boom is centered in the Permian Basin. The scale of drilling, fracking, and production activity out there has of late grown to astounding proportions. A few bucks more severance tax per barrel of oil at this time is not going to diminish this tremendous boom.

It seems that nobody talks seriously about the severance tax. We used to rationalize that increasing the severance tax would hurt Texans at the pump. If that was ever true, it’s certainly proportionately less true today, because most of the production subject to the tax is being exported from Texas. That means that most of the tax is ultimately paid by non-Texans. Our state has desperate need of funds for education, transportation, health care and you name it. Now is time to raise the severance tax.


The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives has 34 Democrats and 34 Republicans talking about climate. But what have they done? Just a little, little bit.

We need substance to protect our economy and health for our children. We need these representatives to stand behind and act on an assertive, effective policy, such as the carbon fee and dividend. However, none of these representatives are from Texas. What does a concerned Texan do? Think big, big action!

I appeal to all of us to study the caucus members, contact our friends and family who do have representatives on this caucus and encourage and support them in holding their representatives accountable for moving this policy forward now. Together and swiftly — and for the sake of our children — let’s make meaningful use of the Climate Solutions Caucus.


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