National Opinions

Charlotte Observer: Target over-the-top CEO pay

Most Americans are fed up with overpaid CEOs who run their companies aground while pocketing multimillion-dollar salaries and bonuses or golden parachutes.

Restricting the pay of executives whose com- panies get federal bailout money, as President Obama announced Wed- nesday, is entirely appro- priate.

Further, in a time of swelling joblessness, shrinking services and genuine economic pain, Wells Fargo should have realized a 12-night Vegas extravaganza billed as "employee recognition" would go over with the public about as well as a 12-night root canal.

The bank -- which received $25 billion in taxpayer bailout funds -- got the message and Tuesday scrapped the event.

Similarly, Bank of America has been flayed by public opinion after ABC News reported it spent $10 million for a five-day Super Bowl carnival, part of a spon- sorship deal with the NFL.

Call it the new Puritan- ism. If you're getting tax- payer money, curb your excesses. Of course, what's "excess" to someone else may be "legitimate expense" to you. Who gets to decide?

And it's worth nothing that even well-intentioned thrift can have unintended repercussions. Consider: Wells Fargo suggests it may have to spend as much in cancellation fees as it would have spent on the Vegas event.

Who decides which marketing events are smart and which are dumb? Public opinion? In the end, businesses must get the message: If you're getting public money and spending extravagantly, you'd better have an extravagantly good reason for doing so.

San Jose Mercury News: Teachers union off base

The state teachers union is driving an odd stake in the fast-eroding ground of state spending on education.

The California Teachers Association is trying to stir up parents by harping on changes to the program that preserves small classes in lower grades.

In a TV ad, the CTA blasts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and "some Sacramento politicians" who are "using the budget as an excuse to abolish our successful class-size reduction program."

K-12 schools face losing billions of dollars. The severity of the proposed cuts is real; however, the distress over the class-size reduction program is misguided.

To temper the impact of cuts, Schwarzenegger is proposing to give school districts maximum flexibility over how they spend $16 billion on designated state programs, which make up about a third of state K-12 money.

The $1.3 billion class- size reduction program, which former Gov. Pete Wilson began in flush times, would be among those that could be shifted to the general budget.

Under the program, the state gives districts an extra $1,000 per student if they agree to no more than 20 students per class in kindergarten through third grades.

Small classes are popular with parents and teachers for good reason.

There's never been strong evidence that California's smaller classes raised academic success.

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