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Act 10 Saves School District More than $2.5 Million in Benefit Costs

New report says the Menomonee Falls School District has seen a big reduction in pension and health care costs because of changes in state's collective bargaining law.

The controversial state law that eliminated most collective bargaining rights for school employees reduced benefit costs for the Menomonee Falls School District by more than $2.5 million, according to a report released Monday.

Specifically:

  • Health care costs for the district dropped by $1.07 million last school year, a 15 percent decrease, according to the report.
  • In addition, the district saved $1.5 million by no longer contributing to the employee share of pension costs.

The report was released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. In the 2010-11 school year, the Menomonee Falls School District paid $7,169,097 in health insurance costs. In 2011-12, the figure dropped to $6,091,548.

The district's contribution to employee share of pension costs dropped to zero from $1,557,116. The district still contributes the employer share of those costs, however.

The report was based on data that public school districts provide to the state Department of Public Instruction.

$366 million saved statewide

School districts across the state reduced benefit costs by $366 million this year, according to the report, which the organization says is the first in-depth look at the effect of Act 10 and the 2011-13 state budget on Wisconsin schools.

Most of the statewide savings come from districts no longer paying the employee share of retirement, the group said.

Of $366.3 million in reduced benefit costs, $240.7 million — or 66 percent — was from retirement contribution savings. Before passage of the 2011-13 state budget, most school districts and other governmental entities paid both the employee and employer share of retirement costs. Now public workers are required to pay the employee portion of retirement.

Because employees can no longer bargain over benefits under Act 10, many school districts increased health insurance co-payments, required higher cost sharing by employees or changed health insurance providers to reduce costs.

In 2012, public school health insurance costs fell $90.7 million, or 24.8%, from 2011 levels, the group said.

Other highlights of the report:

  • Total school district spending dropped $584 million in 2011-12, with 63 percent of that coming from benefit savings.
  • Lower salary costs saved districts $124.9 million, while other cost-cutting totaled $93.1 million.
  • Reduced salary costs were due to a combination of staff retirements and layoffs. In 2011-12, school districts employed 2,312 fewer staff than in 2010-11, a 2.3 percent reduction.

Report called GOP 'propaganda'

The report was not without some controversy, however.

Soon after it was released Monday, a group called One Wisconsin Now blasted it as "propaganda" to help Gov. Scott Walker as he "prepares to put Wisconsin’s children and public schools further in the hole by shifting resources to planned tax cuts to benefit the rich and corporations."

“Predictably, as Scott Walker begins making the case to hand out huge tax breaks to the rich and corporations, the corporate front group WISTAX tosses out propaganda to support his case,” said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now. “The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance is even more Republican than Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, so this is hardly a surprise and their 'findings' should be taken with a grain of salt as big as Scott Walker's campaign finance report."

One Wisconsin Now said its review of campaign contributions made by board members of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance showed that 92 percent of the $1.4 million in  donations went to Republicans.

Steve ® November 14, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Lol at blue fisters still crying over act 10 saving the states finances. We must continue to beat down the cancer they preach.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) November 14, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Damn you to hell Walker (and thanks)
John Wilson November 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
"Because employees can no longer bargain over benefits under Act 10, many school districts increased health insurance co-payments, required higher cost sharing by employees or changed health insurance providers to reduce costs." Rejoice red sisters, public employees now get a negative check! Premature exhilaration! Oh, wait, it is still in the courts “on appeal!”
Steve ® November 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Yes it's so terrible that a public worker must pay a small amount into their healthcare and pension. If you feel it is such a travesty please donate to your favorite public worker and post the cleared check above. Even worse that they are now allowed to shop around for better deals on healthcare. Oh the world is ending we are not stuck with WEA Trust anymore.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) November 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM
John Wilson will be crying like the rest of his blue-fisting brotherhood when the appeal is overturned. Quick, get those new cozy contracts signed!

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