Today has been a crazy busy day for me, but the events in Wisconsin have caught my eye. In case you haven’t heard, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is looking for a way to fix the state’s budget by asking state employees (ie. taxpayer-funded jobs) to pay more for their health insurance benefits and pensions.
From the release from Gov. Walker’s office:
The state of Wisconsin is facing an immediate deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year which ends July 1. In addition, bill collectors are waiting to collect over $225 million for a prior raid of the Patients’ Compensation Fund.
The budget repair bill will balance the budget and lay the foundation for a long-term sustainable budget through several measures without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds, or using accounting gimmicks.
First, it will require state employees to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their healthcare benefits (about half the private sector national average). These changes will help the state save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year.
While some 10,000 workers are throwing a collective fit at the state capitol in Madison, the Wall Street Journal notes that if these if these measures are rejected by the state legislature, a cut of some 6,000 state jobs would be necessary to fill the budget gap. Given those circumstances, it would seem that the measures propsed by Gov. Walker are entirely reasonable.