As the school year ends, the traditional, good-humored good-byes have been supplanted by anger in Howard County. Teachers are fuming over Executive Chuck Ecker's decision to cut their promised 6 percent raises and step increases from the budget.
Their frustration is understandable. But Ecker, faced with a multi-million dollar revenue shortfall, did not provide raises or step increases for any county employees. Moreover, the teachers' raises would have cost $8 million -- 16 cents on the tax rate on top of the 14 cents Ecker proposed to keep government running.
Council members could have restored the teachers' raises and step increases. But they were apprehensive about going to bat for teachers when other county employees weren't getting raises. They didn't want to take the rap for a 30-cent tax increase, either.