Wisconsin – facts about claims that Wisconsin public workers don’t pay enough for their health care

Baseline Scenario refutes claims by Wis. Gov. Scott Walker and Paul Ryan that “State workers who have extremely generous benefits packages, [Walker’s] asking that they contribute 12 percent to their health care packages. It’s not a lot, it’s about half of what private-sector employees pay, and he’s getting riots.”

James Kwak/Baseline Scenario:

“The idea that you can compare the amount that people contribute toward their benefits is based on the assumption that first everyone in the world bargains for salary and then everyone in the world bargains separately for benefits. That’s nonsense. Insofar as there is any bargaining, there’s only one bargaining phase, in which you bargain for both and all you care about is the total value. The amount you nominally “contribute” to your benefits is meaningless, because you also pay for benefits by accepting a lower salary. A lot of the pain over restructuring retirement benefits for unionized manufacturing workers was because their unions had specifically negotiated for those benefits instead of wage increases decades before — and management went along because it wanted to push those costs far into the future.”

ProPublica has an interesting post, “Cheat Sheet: What’s Really Going On With Wisconsin’s Budget”, which lays out details about Wisconsin’s budget deficit and other good bits.

On the question of the existence of a budget deficit the answer is yes but the details, which LSW won’t go into, should be understood. Try this on:

“Walker’s deficit figure, then, might not be so “ginned up” after all; it just assumes Wisconsin will pay Minnesota back and fund those cash-strapped programs within the next four months.”

On the governor’s attempt to repeal collective negotiating rights for public employees (except police, fire fighters, and state troopers, who endorsed Walker’s gubernatorial campaign):

“But critics – like the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll – suggest that public employees are simply the scapegoat in a political ploy to “defund” the Democratic Party.”

The fight is spreading to Ohio and Indiana and could play a significant role in the 2012 election.

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