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School budget voting brings out worst in us

Imagine my surprise upon returning from warmer climates and reading or hearing the claims made by taxpayers at school budget votes. These exaggerations are fictional. There’s an old saying that typifies this: “Small-minded people are not afraid to give others a piece of their mind.”

The most outrageous claim, made by several callers to a local radio talk show, is that teachers enjoy free lifetime health benefits. I’m a retired teacher from a suburban district. I pay more than $1,600 per quarter for family health insurance. The free lifetime benefit doesn’t apply to teachers from many districts outside the city. Let’s put this falsehood to bed for good. Remember, in Buffalo people don’t vote on the school budget.

Secondly, some voters object to paying for extracurricular events – sports, music, etc. As I look around West Seneca, I see an ice skating rink, several baseball fields, two swimming pools and picnic areas behind City Hall. Those venues are funded by town taxes. If one suggests eliminating school extracurricular activities, then let’s close those town facilities. They, too, are funded by our local taxes. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

In addition, one comment I heard is that teacher pensions are not taxable at the state level. That’s true, but neither are Social Security benefits. Why discriminate teacher pensions versus Social Security pensions? Enough of this drivel, please.

Finally, I fail to rationalize school budget votes. I can name dozens of states where this is not allowed. I think voting on school budgets brings out the outrageous comments and exaggerations from taxpayers.

Philip Fanone

West Seneca