I felt like crying when I saw the signs in Augusta accusing teachers of being greedy because they do not want to lose the pension benefits they were promised.

I can tell you that I do not know of any teacher who went into teaching for the money. I know teachers who work second jobs to make ends meet; who have left the state because they could not live on a beginning teacher’s salary and still pay student loans; teachers who left the state when they learned that, because of the Maine retirement system, they would lose Social Security they had earned when working in other states.

When I walk into school every day, I see the most dedicated people I can imagine, who put in long hours, who spend their own money for school supplies, who would do anything to help their students learn.

Most teachers are not looking for recognition; they try to ignore all the negative press and just do their jobs. But they would like to live in dignity and would like to be able to retire someday, because teaching just keeps getting more stressful every year.

Gov. LePage says that we all have to make sacrifices, although I don’t recall any plea for business or wealthy folks or anyone else besides state workers and teachers who have been asked to make those sacrifices. Still, I’m willing to make sacrifices and teachers are a pretty compassionate group, so I say, yes, let’s bail the state out of this current economic crisis.

My proposal is that all of us teachers and state workers, and supporters of these dedicated individuals, should just buy an extra $5 to $20 worth of lottery tickets every week. I’m sure we can make up that shortfall, and a few of us may even win the lottery and have a chance to actually retire.

Cathy Grigsby

Art teacher

Stevens Brook Elementary School


Doesn’t it seem as if the only people who will pay for the budget deficit are the average to less-than-average wage earners? I agree with school librarian Kelley McDaniel and wish I’d heard her speak at the State House recently.

I, too, don’t understand why we’re poking sticks at teachers and government workers, none of whom are living in the lap of luxury, while justifying more tax cuts for wealthy people — the same people who laughed when the federal government extended the tax cuts they didn’t need in the first place, and which economists say contributed to the budget deficit from the moment George W. Bush handed them out.

Do the people who support this inequality believe they will someday be millionaires, and thus benefit from the tax cuts? Do they really believe the rich will create more jobs, even though they haven’t during the past three years while they’ve been benefiting from their tax cuts?

Are there back-room deals going on in which big companies say they will create jobs only when all the environmental and safety regulations come off the books? Makes perfect sense to them. Sounds like life in the mills circa 1900 to me.

I agree with McDaniel. The governor’s approach makes no sense and will only lead to hardship for people struggling to educate their children and make a living now.

Beverly Wood

North Berwick

I read with interest that Portland school officials have extended the deadline for employees to accept a retirement incentive “in the hope that more people will take it.”

I retired from teaching with a retirement incentive during the budget difficulties of the early ’90s. To help me make my decision of whether or not to retire, I considered how much my retirement incentive would be and when I would receive it, the amount of my pension, and that I would receive a cost-of-living adjustment each year after the first.

With that information I chose to retire, which to this point has been quite satisfactory.

I would, however, caution all workers to remember that today we live in very different times, where some private companies often feel no responsibility to deliver earned pensions that are the workers’ right. Apparently Gov. LePage feels much the same toward state workers and teachers.

I don’t envy the Portland school employees who must decide whether or not they can afford to retire, but also whether all parts of the retirement agreement will eventually be honored. I guess it all depends on who keeps his word.

Richard G. Hawes


I found your editorial of March 6, titled “State’s proposed cuts reasonable in this crisis,” to be somewhat misleading.

Teachers in Wisconsin have both Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as a state pension plan. Teachers and state employees in Maine have only the state pension and health benefits. Those are our Social Security and Medicare.

Maine state retirees have had no cost-of-living increase for two years, as is the case with Social Security (although we received no separate check from the government, as did Social Security retirees).

We are being asked to go for three more years with no increase, and then to have any increase capped at 2 percent rather than the current 4 percent. Social Security recipients have received an average annual 4.2 percent cost-of-living increase over the past 40 years, with the highest being 14.3 percent. There is no cap.

While going for an additional three years with no increase might be a necessary sacrifice, having that capped at 2 percent forever is not reasonable, and I don’t think Social Security recipients would see it as such either.

Your statement — “The changes are reasonable. The people affected by them should be reasonable as well” — deserves more thought than your editorial gave.

Margaret Harrison


Gas prices rising morning till night — can it be greed?

I understand that a gasoline station needs to go up on the price of gas when they receive a delivery and the price is more than it was for the previous delivery. That’s called passing the increase on to the consumer.

However, I don’t understand why the price of gasoline at a gas station is 5 to 10 cents higher in the afternoon than it was when I drove by that morning. What do they call that? I call that giving the consumer the shaft.

I challenge any gas station owner/operator to explain why the price goes up on gasoline that they have in their tanks already and have already paid for at a lower price, days or weeks before the price of a barrel of crude has gone up on Wall Street.

My guess is there is no reasonable explanation other than good old-fashion greed.

Steve Pomelow