Ron Nate has a long way to go to catch up with Frank Drebin.
But heís trying.
Nate is a Republican legislator from Rexburg. Heís a frequent star on the Gem State stage featuring oddball politics.
Drebin is a police lieutenant in ďNaked Gun,Ē as funny a bit of film-making as youíre likely to find for a St. Paddyís Day nightcap, Drebin, you might mirthfully recall, leaves a packed press conference for the menís room, where he does what restroom visitors are wont to do. Heís unaware that every precious ounce of relief and associated sound effects are shared with a broad audience, thanks to his live mic.
On Tuesday, Nate was not the least bit relieved to learn that a comment he made to another legislator during a break was live streamed from the House to the public. Like Drebin, Nate was unaware his mic was live.
ďWe all know our districts; we all know there are teachers there clearly overpaid,Ē Nate was clearly heard to say. He insisted later that he did not recall making the comment.
This might surprise you, but today we defend Rep. Nate. He has every right to say some teachers are overpaid because thereís absolutely no question, some teachers are overpaid. Itís also true that some teachers are underpaid.
Nate was arguing against a proposed $2 million appropriation for public school counseling services when he noted that money could instead be used to hire 53 more teachers. That doesnít exactly sound like a guy whoís anti-teacher, does it? And outside the warm embrace of the teachers union, donít most folks suspect thereís an instructor here and there who might not be fully earning his or her keep?
Thatís not a rip on teachers; itís just the way of the work-a-day world. We would argue some employees in every arena are probably underpaid, most are paid fairly, and a few are overpaid.
Teachers are targets because they get summers off and nice breaks during the school year. Critics like to point out that a $40,000 or $50,000 salary plus good benefits ainít bad for 180 or so days a year in the classroom. But it also kind of begs the question: If these jobs are so great and so easy and so profitable, why are states like Idaho so desperate to hire more teachers?
Idaho legislators, by the way, receive an annual salary of almost $17,000. They also get a per diem that ranges from $49 to $149, plus travel expenses and a nifty benefits package. Theyíre scheduled to work about as long as teachers have off in the summer: Three months.
We think Frank Drebin would be the first to agree, some legislators are clearly overpaid.