03/08/11 — Who will blink: No one wants to cheat state employees. They just want it fair.

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Who will blink: No one wants to cheat state employees. They just want it fair.

To watch and listen to the arguments over state benefits and budgets, you would think someone had told state employees that they were going to have to submit to the whims of state officials and that they would be working in coal mines, without any kind of protection. Far from it.

The argument states are making is that the days of being able to offer state employees cadillac pensions, great benefits and a guarantee of a raise every year are pretty much over.

Coincidentally enough, those are the same concerns that people in the regular job market are also facing -- and realities they are also dealing with.

Removing some power from state employee unions is not sending workers back to days when they were exploited and treated badly. It is acknowledging that the world has changed and that the budgets of today can no longer support the standard of living to which they have become accustomed.

And as much as many people would like the current situation to remain the same -- there is a reality that state workers are going to have to start dealing with if they expect to keep their jobs.

Many states simply cannot afford to pay the pensions that were the standard years ago -- and health benefits are going to cost more.

The loud protests are for show in many cases. The uprisings in several states are more about fear and uncertainty than any real threat to the welfare of state employees.

It is still a pretty good job to work for the state in most cases. This is a power struggle.

What needs to happen is more talking, more looking at the budget and an understanding that there are trade-offs for any decision.

It is about tough decisions now to safeguard a future.

Published in Editorials on March 8, 2011 10:41 AM