The political battle in WI continues with dueling rallies between union members from all around the country bussed in by the DNC and Organizing For America and supporters of Gov. Walker's Budget Reform package. Here is some information you won't get from most of the media - information they'd rather you not be aware of:
In 2001 taxpayers contributed $423 million to state employee health insurance coverage. For 2011 that figure will be more than $1 billion. In 2011 state employees will pay $64 million toward their health insurance, about 5.6% of the total cost. (ETF Health Care Analysis)
From 2001 to 2010 taxpayers spent more than $8 billion on state employee health care coverage. During that same period of time state employees contributed about $398 million. (ETF Health Care Analysis)
Public employers contributed almost $1.37 billion to the state's pension fund in 2009, while state employees contributed about $8 million, about 0.6%. (LFB paper 84, Wisconsin Retirement System, Table 28)
From 2000 to 2009 taxpayers spent about $12.6 billion on public employee pensions. During the same period public employees contributed $55.4 million. (LFB paper 84 Wisconsin Retirement system, Table 28)
When looking at state operations, state employees account for about 60% of taxpayer cost. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
Wisconsin taxpayers currently make nearly a 100% payment for the employee portion of the public sector pension contribution. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio pay 0% of the employee contribution. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
Public employees in Wisconsin are vested in the retirement system immediately, while in Illinois it takes 8 years, 10 years in Indiana, 4 years in Iowa, 10 years in Michigan, 3 years in Minnesota and 5 years in Ohio. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11
Survey data finds that private employer HMO plans in Wisconsin typically require a copay of $18 per office visit, $45 per specialist visit, $75 per emergency room visit, or $175 in-patient treatment. The average health insurance premium for these plans averaged $108 per month for single coverage and $261 for family. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
Taxpayers spent $733 million of general purpose revenue on fringe benefits for state employees in fiscal year 2010. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
Fringe benefits made up 25.6% of school district expenditures in 2008-09. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
About 40% of public-sector workers are represented by labor unions, versus 7.7% of workers in the private sector, and here is how the two sectors fare.
Weekly earnings for the union worker employed by state government is $917. A comparable private sector worker gets $703. A private sector union worker gets $855. (U. S. Labor Department)
For state employees there is a union versus non-union gap in wage gains. State union pay has risen 36% in the past decade, while non-union state employees saw wages rise 27% (roughly holding steady with inflation).
On benefits union compensation is higher and has been rising faster for government workers versus non-government workers. The cost of hourly benefits averaged $13.85 per hour in the public sector in the third quarter of 2010, up 32% in seven years. Private sector benefits averaged $8.20 per hour, up 23% in the same time frame. (U. S. Labor Department)
What is there about these statistics that the unions don't understand? Walker is not on a witch hunt to get rid of the unions. He sees the problem, which is, WE ARE BROKE.
Walker is doing what he was elected to do. His plan is about reform. It is about ending collective bargaining which is responsible for legacy contracts that can't be met. His plan is about regaining the publics' trust. His plan is about stopping out-of-control benefit costs in the public sector and balancing WI's budget. His plan is about requiring public employees to pay their fair share at a time when the private sector workers can no longer support themselves plus the public sector.
And most states are in the same sinking ship Wisconsin is in. Every state has to deal with this problem. I hope they all have the courage and commitment that Governor Walker has.
In the meantime, thousands of government employees are in Madison demonstrating. They have called in "sick," while we, the taxpayers, continue to pay their wages and benefits. Now there are real doctors writing "fake doctor excuses" because in order to get paid for their so-called sick days, the "sick" worker must have a doctor's excuse. The "excuses" say yes, indeed, the doctor did examine the "patient." It's a Big Fat Lie. It's pretty obvious that the doctors who are involved in this scam have sunk to an unethical low. I would hope that the state medical licensing board takes a good look at their activities.
And 13 Democrats have left the state so that the Budget Bill cannot be voted on. They are hanging out in Illinois, and the taxpayers are paying their Per Diem to be in Madison. What a dereliction of duty. They should all be recalled. But since they are hiding in a different state, maybe we should finally "close our borders" so they can't come back. Wisconsin would surely benefit if their absence became permanent.
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