Fewer and fewer of our nation’s children live and attend school in forced-unionism states.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, as recently as 2000, roughly 50% of K-12 school-aged children (5-17 years old) lived in one of the 22 states that, as of today, still haven’t enacted Right to Work laws.
This year, the share of America’s school-aged population residing in these same 22 forced-unionism states has shrunk to less than 47%.
Families have fled forced-unionism states in droves, undoubtedly in large part because job opportunities and cost of living-adjusted incomes in such states are significantly lower than they are in Right to Work states.
Form 2006 to 2016, the number of 5-17 year-olds in the 24 states that lacked Right to Work protections for the whole decade (Kentucky and Missouri became Right to Work only this year) fell by 1.00 million, or 3.6%. Meanwhile, the number of K-12 school-aged children living in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the entire time grew by 1.64 million, or 7.7%.
Among the 14 states suffering the greatest percentage losses in K-12 population, not one has longstanding Right to Work protections.
Since the school-aged population in a state largely represents its future workforce, a long-term decline in the number of 5-17 year-olds is obviously a negative indicator for a state’s future economic growth prospects. The only silver lining is that, when enrollment in public schools declines, it should at least enable elected officials to lighten current taxpayers’ burdens related to the cost of primary and secondary public education.
Unfortunately, in a number of forced-unionism states Big Labor’s power over the political system is so vast that there is virtually never a silver lining for taxpayers.
In a recent commentary, newspaperman Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn., called attention to the handiwork of union-label politicians in the Nutmeg State. (See the link below to read the whole thing.)
Since 2006, Connecticut’s K-12 population has fallen by more than 47,000, or 7.6%. This is a steeper decline than in all but six other states.
Because of the accompanying decline in school enrollment, Gov. Dannel Malloy, a longtime ally of union bosses who has recently incurred their wrath because he is not an alchemist capable of turning base metal into gold, contends the state ought to be able to reduce somewhat the taxpayer-funded school aid doled out to municipalities.
This is logical, as far as it goes. But what the governor has failed to address, as Powell explained, is that state law “effectively forbids school systems from reducing their spending no matter how much their enrollment declines.” That is to say, “economizing in Connecticut’s school system is actually illegal.”
Powell went on to ask the obvious question:
What prompted such a law? Concern for students was mere pretense. Instead, the law was enacted to ensure that savings from declining enrollment would always be diverted from taxpayers to [forced due-paying] members of teacher unions, to whom most school appropriations are paid and who exert a superior claim on school money through [monopolistic] collective bargaining and binding arbitration on their contracts.
As an extraordinarily unpopular lame-duck governor without a viable political future in Connecticut or anywhere else, Malloy has suggested in recent months that he is finally free, after spending years coddling Big Labor, to stand up for the state’s taxpayers. But he has most definitely not proposed repeal of the state law that prevents taxpayers from saving any money when school enrollment declines:
Under the governor’s plan, while state aid to municipal school systems would be cut in the name of declining enrollment, the schools still would have to spend just as much, and to replace the lost aid municipalities would have to raise property taxes.
Powell’s conclusion is that the governor’s stance makes no sense, and in Connecticut it does seem that the inordinate coercive power of Big Labor has so thoroughly corrupted the political system that common sense is in short supply. But more and more citizens are coming to realize the only way to break the cycle of corruption in the Nutmeg State is through revocation of union bosses’ forced-dues privileges and repeal of union monopoly bargaining in the public sector.