I have largely avoided political issues of late, but today’s WSJ op-ed piece by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is simply excellent. What he is trying to do in Wisconsin simply makes good fiscal and educational sense. Read it for yourself and see why.
A couple noteworthy points:
1. Federal workers don’t have collective bargaining for wages and benefits. Yet that’s one of the perks that the public employee union in Wisconsin is fighting to retain.
2. The changes Gov. Walker seeks are modest:
“We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums.”
3. A similar change was implemented in Indiana, with great success – for both tax payers and government employees:
“When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.”
The article’s opening:
“In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.”
On a related theme, I recently enjoyed the documentary Waiting for “Superman”, which helpfully highlights how public school teachers’ unions often block educational reform efforts and even oppose measures that would make it easier for excellent teachers to earn more compensation.