This is for letter writers Dennis Caron, David Sawicki, Gayle Blydenstein, Anne Milton and John Field, who think public employees have it much better than private employees.

How do you justify your assertion that public employees are so well compensated? It seems like you are listening to sound bites from the tea party. Let’s compare me to my husband:

I am a teacher; he works in the private sector. I have a master’s degree and advanced certificate; he has an associate’s degree. My salary is less than his. This year he pays 4.2 percent of his salary to Social Security and 1.42 percent to Medicare; I pay about 9 percent of my salary to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System and Medicare, with the governor suggesting that I now pay 11 percent.

By the way, I also pay taxes to the state of Maine. How many of you have to pay taxes to your own employer?

We both put about the same percentage of our salaries into 401(k)/403(b)-type retirement accounts. His company pays matching funds to his retirement account; my school pays no matching funds. My cost for family health insurance is about $600 per month; his cost for family insurance is about $350 per month.

In summary, his private-sector pay is better, his insurance benefits are less expensive and his retirement benefits are better. On top of all that, my husband is not continually ridiculed and publicly attacked for being a hard-working and dedicated employee. Instead, he gets a bonus.

Helen Hurgin


Like children having a hissy fit, they stamped their feet, screamed their lungs out, threatened all kinds of retribution, including murder, and created a reported $7 million cost to clean up their mess and repair the damage to the Capitol in Madison, Wis. They succeeded only in creating an indelible impression of who and what Democrats really are.

The 14 Democrat senators, with their tails between their legs, ran away, saying they don’t want to play if they can’t win. What a disgrace they all are. What has happened, you see, is that we caught them cheating and they have no defense but noise and more noise.

We all believed that elections were fair and that everyone was equal to everyone else and we all had one vote. But when the truth came home that the union dues of public workers heavily supported Democrat politicians who promised to increase union workers’ salaries and retirement benefits, we discovered an awful truth. We learned that everyone was equal, but some people were more equal than others.

Democrats have been gaming the system and filling their pockets with our money. The truth is out. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Thank God for that.

David Huck


We are backing up in time to when tyrants had absolute power, even as other societies are fighting for rights and benefits we fought for and won.

Decades ago, our best-educated citizens entered government service and education, which promised meaningful careers and a livable retirement. They worked hard, doing what they loved, constructively serving “we the people.” They put a portion of pay they earned into retirement accounts as mandated.

The accounts grew toward the promise those funds were designated to fulfill. Did our past politicians respect that promise made as forced cuts in benefits called “cost of living freezes” began? Were those funds respected as already spoken for, or was that money ” put to work” as money problems begged solutions?

Today, the promise to middle-class workers is being betrayed. The decision to attack educators’ retirement benefits, education funding and state workers’ retirements will place many people’s future well-being at great risk.

The shortfalls and mismanagement that caused this mess are not the fault of these working people, the elderly or our children. The Le- Page plan to “fix” the budget on their backs is robbery and breaks promises made. How will he explain to “we the people” how Maine will hire high-quality workers and teachers in the future when today’s graduates and qualified job seekers see what they will surely face?

What Gov. LePage will do to retired and retiring teachers and state workers with his proposed cuts is to stab them in the back, then twist the dagger, as he also dims their grandchildren’s futures. For most who dared to hope, “Et tu, Paule?”

Keith R. Heavrin Jr.


The Wisconsin Democrats want to “demonize” what the recent election inspired — the firm desire for change, not business as usual.

Some opponents of change do not want anything different — and why? Because the generous benefits afforded them might have to be adjusted to prevent a collapse of the financial system.

How selfish can they be? I feel that those who voted for changes must continue to persevere. They realize that sacrifices are needed by all in order to secure the goal of fiscal responsibility in the country. The Wisconsin senators who left their state for more than a month, rather than do the job they were elected to do, should resign! These senators were elected to serve, and running away from responsibility demonstrates a total disregard for our political system.

Paul LeConte


I am not a state employee or teacher, yet I know and have worked with many teachers and state employees. Gov. LePage’s proposed freeze on state employee/teacher cost of living allowances (COLAs) is bad enough. What’s most alarming is the proposal to reduce the COLA cap from 4 percent to 2 percent — a significant loss of income over the years.

Already modest state/teacher pensions will become a pathway to the poorhouse in the face of expected inflationary pressures.

The proposal is mean-spirited and unethical, and it’s wrong to dump the mismanagement of the state’s pension system onto the backs of state employees and teachers. If reducing promised benefits to state employees and teachers is not illegal — and apparently it’s not — it should be.

We can all put a human face on these employees and retirees. They are teachers who taught you and your kids, and state employees who protect our land, build our infrastructure and establish a safety net for those who need a helping hand.

They are public servants who invested in their own education, and donated countless unpaid hours with dedication and without accolades.

They are teachers who spent their own paltry paychecks to equip classrooms when schools didn’t provide supplies. If you haven’t noticed, these people are the heroes who have kept Maine running.

We must find more creative alternatives to balancing the state budget than to do it on the backs of the modest benefits we offer to vulnerable retirees who have worked on behalf of Maine and all of us.

Lois Winter