Friday, February 18, 2011
MacIver News Service | February 16, 2011
Currently, Wisconsin state employees pay less than 5 percent of the premium cost for family coverage (4.35 percent for union employees and 4.96 percent for non‐union employees). That’s lower than the 6.2 percent they paid in 2009, when Wisconsin’s employee contribution was the second‐lowest among Midwest states for family coverage.
Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed raising the employee share of health insurance premiums to 12.4 percent, however even after the additional contribution, the contribution rate would still be less than the 2009 Midwest average for state government employees.
Moreover, the new rate would also be less than the employee contributions required at 85 percent of large Milwaukee‐area employers.
The proposed changes would cost the average state employee an additional $1,560 per year for family coverage, but the amount they would pay ($2,496) would still be significantly less than the $3,875 average premium contribution at large private‐sector employers in southeastern Wisconsin.
“State employees will also continue to get much more for their money than their private sector counterparts,” the study reads. “The state plan offers more benefits, lower deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket maximums than the average private sector plan.”
HCTrends reviewed data from the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the HCTrends Greater Milwaukee Health Care Benefits Survey.
The NCSL data was used to compare Wisconsin state employee benefits with eight other Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. The HCTrends employer survey data was used to compare Wisconsin state plan costs and design with private‐sector employers in southeastern Wisconsin.
The study can be found, here.
MacIver News Service – [Milwaukee, Wisc...] This week the Milwaukee Public School District sent layoff notices to 700 educators, including 500 teachers. However, less than 200 people turned out for a rally Monday protesting the cuts, and most of those in attendance were not the ones being laid off.
That’s not surprising since MPS has been discussing the layoffs for months, and teachers have ignored the budget discussions all year.
As we reported in April:
“We must control costs,” said MPS Superintendent William Andrekopoulos, “The benefit rate we project for next year is more than 74%. The District cannot sustain that. We are providing millions for benefits that we could be using to keep teaching staff and buy supplies.”
Excessive fringe benefit costs, which have driven the average teacher compensation in Milwaukee Public Schools to more than $100,000 a year, could lead to the elimination of 682 positions within the district next year.
The District has told the local teachers' union that they could have avoided layoffs if they were to agree to the lower-cost health benefits package that is now one of two options teachers currently have.
As the MPS Board deliberated the budget this spring, attendance at the public meetings was anemic.
The union has not accepted the more cost-effective health benefits plan, and earlier this month the MPS Board passed the budget which included the elimination of several positions.
The layoffs are done by seniority, which puts the youngest, newest teachers at the most risk of losing their jobs. These same teachers say their union did not keep them informed of the ongoing budget deliberations or the fact that their positions were at risk.
Several of the teachers we spoke with Monday questioned the union’s position and communication efforts.
MacIver’s Bill Osmulski reports from Milwaukee:
But they knew they were just happy to be out of class.