Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fleebaggers vs. Taxpayers

Some readers may remember the political turmoil that beset the state of Wisconsin when Governor Scott Walker pushed a number of reforms five years ago that were designed, among other things, to weaken the grip public employees unions had on the state's taxpayers. The legislative effort was labelled Act 10, and in an effort to prevent its passage, many Democrat legislators fled the state so the legislature would be denied a quorum and couldn't vote on the bill. The fleeing legislators came to be called "Fleebaggers." There was tremendous pressure brought to bear on Walker and the Republican legislature - death threats, protesters filling the capitol building, nation-wide criticism in the media - but they remained firm and Act 10 passed.

The MacIver Institute has run the numbers and found that, in the ensuing five years, contrary to all of the predictions of doom, an amazing $5 billion has been saved by the state of Wisconsin as a direct result of Act 10:
Five years ago, Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature started their odyssey that resulted in the signing of Act 10, a milestone law that has saved Wisconsin taxpayers $5.24 billion, according to a new analysis by the MacIver Institute.

The analysis found that Wisconsin saved $3.36 billion by requiring [that] government employees contribute a reasonable amount to their own retirement. The analysis also estimates local units of governments saved an additional $404.8 million total by taking common sense steps like opening their employees' health insurance to competitive bidding. Milwaukee Public Schools saved $1.3 billion in long-term pension liabilities, and Neenah saved $97 million in long-term pension liabilities in addition to other savings.

Five years after Gov. Walker introduced it, Act 10 is still the gift that keeps on giving. The MacIver Institute analysis found that the Medford School District recently realized an 11 percent decrease in the cost of its health insurance business by opening it to competitive bidding....Similarly, the Appleton Area School District switched health insurance providers last October and local taxpayers will see up to $3 million in savings in the first year alone.
There's more at the link. Here's a chart that accompanied the article and which shows a breakdown of the money saved by Wisconsin through the courage and wisdom of its legislature and governor:

The lesson here seems simple enough. Competition, low taxes, and reasonable pension reform are economic panaceas for state governments, but they're anathema to legislatures controlled by liberals who are beholden to public employees unions. So, while states like California, Illinois, and New York continue policies which nudge them ever closer to insolvency, states like Wisconsin are following a wiser course. The question is, why can't those other states, and our federal government, for that matter, see the wisdom of what Wisconsin has done?