I received the following e-mail written by a local woman - Paula Q (thanks to Karen, who forwarded this letter on to me). Given what is taking place in Madison right now, this write-up is very timely:
As I sit here and surf the net on articles about WI Gov. Walker's "budget repair bill" that includes provisions for state union workers to contribute to their pensions and health care and the end to collective bargaining I am struck with a thought. How did we ever get here? Who in their right mind ever thought it a good idea for the taxpayers to give FREE retirement benefits and really cheap rates for health plans to state workers?
What makes them so special? Why should state union workers - by virtue of being employed by the state - get a pass on what all the rest of us have to pay ourselves? Don't get me wrong I love our teachers but why is it sacrilege for us to expect them to contribute to their retirement and health care?
In the private sector we don't have the job security enjoyed by union employees or FREE retirement and really cheap health care plans. Why are the same rules not expected of ALL workers regardless of whether your employed by Wisconsin or by Harley-Davidson?
As I read the many articles on this topic I ask myself, don't these unions realize that we are $3.6 billion in deficit in this state? Where were they in the previous years when we saw this train heading for the cliff and did nothing? Exactly where do the state union employees who are claiming that Gov Walker is targeting them for some kind of sick punishment think the money will come from to pay all the retirement and health care bills? As far as I can tell many of these people are college educated and have at least a basic grasp of economics - so who do they think will shell out the $3.6 Billion to cover the debt and make sure that their retirement and health care is taken care of?
2 quick hits for you to ponder:
- from 2001 to 2010, taxpayers spent more than $8 billion (yes, billion) dollars on state employee health care coverage - over the same period of time state employees contributed about $398 million dollars (ETF Health Care Analysis).
- from 2000 to 2009, taxpayers spent about $12.6 billion dollars on public employee pensions. During the same period, public employees contributed $55.4 million dollars (LFB paper 84, Wisconsin Retirement System Table 28).
I'll frame this question as any good liberal left wing progressive would: "IS THIS FAIR?"