One of the things that has been missed in the debate over public employee unions in Wisconsin is the impact on city and county budgets. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal doesn’t just impact the state’s fiscal situation, but it attempts to help the cities and counties. And, as the former Counter Executive of 2-1 Democratic Milwaukee County, Walker has a real familiarity with how the fiscal crisis is impacting city and county budgets. Aaron Rodriguez from the Hispanic Conservative has done us all a great service by reviewing the budget fights with the unions that Walker won in his county. Rodriguez, a leading Wisconsin school choice activist, has great examples of how the teachers unions have put their own interests ahead of the children.
LaborUnionReport had a nice review of the corruption involved in one of the more corrupt practices that impact county finances. Union collective bargaining agreements require school districts, for example, to purchase health care through the Wisconsin Education Association Trust. Simply put, it is not enough for the unions to require that the union members get good health care. They also want to force the school districts to purchase health care from a union-owned health insurance company. The state-enforced monopoly provider of education services is using their monopoly position to force the school districts to purchase.
Obviously, these additional costs hurt. But how much? Green Bay’s ABC affiliate WBAY-2, has a summary of the issues. The numbers are pretty remarkable.
Currently many school districts participate in WEA trust because WEAC collectively bargains to get as many school districts across the state to participate in this union run health insurance plan as possible. Union leadership benefits from members participating in this plan. If school districts enrolled in the state employee health plan, it would save school districts up to $68 million per year. Beyond that if school districts had the flexibility to look for health insurance coverage outside of WEA trust or the state plan, additional savings would likely be realized.
I note the figure $68 million. This is not state budget costs. These costs are faced by cities and counties which have even less flexibility than state budgets. The left tries to focus the problem as narrowly as possible on the state fiscal situation. But the number of impacted governments are much larger.