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Our View: QEO needed at least until other reforms
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This certainly won't be the last time we've said this. If only it could be the last. Gov. Jim Doyle must be stopped in his attempt to repeal the QEO, or "qualified economic offer," which limits increases in teacher pay and benefits.

Another one of the items placed in Doyle's budget proposal that doesn't belong there is the repeal of the QEO. The QEO does not impact the state budget, but removing it would have a devastating effect on the budgets of the state's school districts.

The QEO allows school districts to avoid costly binding arbitration on teacher contracts as long as they offer at least a 3.8 percent increase - the "qualified economic offer" - in pay and benefits. A guaranteed 3.8 percent annual increase would be a luxury for most workers in today's economic climate.

The QEO limits school district expenditures, and the state-mandated revenue cap of about 2 percent limits what schools can collect in taxes. The combination is not a panacea for school finances by any stretch of the imagination, but it's at least helps limit the increase in property taxes.

If the QEO is repealed, school districts will lose a great deal of control over their expenses and taxpayers either will have to pay for it or accept significant cuts in classroom or extracurricular offerings.

Absent of significant education funding reform - and there certainly will be none before the next budget is approved - the QEO must remain in place to give school districts a fighting chance to manage their own budgets. The governor apparently doesn't understand that, so make sure your representatives in the Legislature do.