Our View: One year after the QEO and salaries jumpIt is interesting that just one year after the elimination of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) in Wisconsin, school salaries have essentially doubled.
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
It is interesting that just one year after the elimination of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) in Wisconsin, school salaries have essentially doubled.
The QEO law was enacted in 1993 under the leadership of Republican Tommy Thompson. The law survived until last year when it was repealed under the leadership of Democrat Jim Doyle.
The QEO law — and the revenue controls that restrict the amount of money school districts can raise — were enacted in order to limit school spending. Under the QEO, school boards had the option of unilaterally limiting pay and benefits for K-12 teachers to a maximum of 3.8 percent. The law allows school districts to avoid true collective bargaining regarding compensation and school quality issues.
Those measures were combined with a commitment that the state would provide two-thirds of the costs of schools on a statewide average (of course, the figure varies by community – in Hudson, for instance, the state provides only about half the funding).
We bring it up now because the school district of Hudson last week approved a compensation package for local teachers of 6.86 percent (salary and benefits) for the coming year. Also interesting is the fact that Hudson teachers have accepted an increase that is lower than the state average, which was apparently 7.6 percent. Who would have guessed that one-year out from the QEO, during tough economic conditions, that average raises would double in the state of Wisconsin?
Of course, there are two sides to the QEO argument. In recent years, rising health insurance costs have eaten up most of the 3.8 percent total compensation target. Essentially, teacher salaries in Wisconsin stagnated and, in some cases, even declined.
One study claims that Wisconsin teacher salaries fell 6.8 percent from 1997-98 to 2007-08, when adjusted for inflation. For 2007-08, Wisconsin’s teacher salaries ranked 21st in the nation at $49,051, down from 20th the year before, and below the national average of $52,308.
On the other hand, we’re not sure taxpayers will be thrilled with annual increases that total in the neighborhood of 7 percent. That’s especially true when many people are suffering through personal difficult economic situations throughout the state.
We’re not picking on teachers – they do a wonderful job, and in a perfect world we wish they could be paid even more. We’re all proud of the Hudson School District and the wonderful work being done in our schools.
If the first year is any indication, however — like it or hate it, the QEO is apparently already a distant memory.