Looks like the Pew Center on the States has confirmed what we kind of knew- Wisconsin was the only state in the nation in 2010 that had its public employee pensions 100% fully funded.
This report goes along with the article I mentioned yesterday, which showed that Scott Walker could not use the failures in other states as an excuse to steal from and "reform" the WRS when the report on the system comes out in the next 11 days. If you look at the Wisconsin report on Page 49, you'll see how the state has been responsible in putting the money behind their promises to public sector workers for decades, unlike many other foolish places who underfunded these pensions as an excuse to give away goodies and tax cuts to others. As the report notes, the Doyle/Dem budget (which I'll remind you ended up in a $215 million surplus) put up $742 million in 2010 for WRS pensions (some paid by employees, but mostly by taxpayers).
In fact, Pew notes that Wisconsin actually overfunded its pensions in 2010 by $55 million, and also had post-retirement employee health care benefits covered at a rate that was nearly 5 times the national average. By point of comparison, look at Minnesota's situation on Page 23. The 'Sotans set aside $121 million more than Wisconsin for pensions in 2010...and still fell more than $400 million short of their recommended contribution. Why? Because past underfunding put them further in the hole year after year, while Wisconsin was fully funding WRS, and saving taxpayers millions in later years as a result because they didn't have to "catch up." So Wisconsin's fiscal responsibility has put it ahead of the curve, and allows us to have much more flexibility and fewer fiscal constraints than many other places as their Boomer employees leave the work force.
Of course, that wasn't enough for Governor Walker, so he decided to make public employees pay a lot more into the system (cutting their take-home pay in the process), while yanking out the same amount from the state. So what did we get for those alleged $370 million in tax savings? The most job losses in America and the lowest wage growth in the U.S. for the 4th Quarter of 2011. Oh, and a divisive, hateful atmosphere that resulted from the Walker Administration's scapegoating of public employees. And another $558 million in borrowing to "balance" the budget that has put us further in debt for future years.
So if Walker comes up with some kind of claim that employee pensions and benefits are destroying Wisconsin's budget, don't you dare fall for it. Because despite Walker's national ambitions and desire for D.C. media attention, he's still getting paid by us taxpayers to pass policies that are in the best interests FOR WISCONSIN. If he dares to touch a fully-funded WRS System that approximately 1 in 5 Wisconsin workers is a part of, it is time to take it to the streets and cut off the lies.
The other thing we got for Walker's Act 10 is destruction of many state agencies. I met a guy while canvassing for the recall who told me that what the Walker appointee is doing to his unit is just criminal and I know it is true in other units as well. What I see at work is the retirement or resignation of the most knowledgeable and most accomplished state employees. These are the folks who handle your tax dollars, protect your public lands and buildings, and care for your prisoners and wards of the state. These are the folks that make your life safer, easier and more secure, if they do their jobs right. You want good people in these jobs because they work for you. What's left behind are workplaces in which the rules are changing and public service is no longer as important as political and corporate concerns. You have workers carrying the load of several absent colleagues who may not be replaced at the wages offered. And morale is very, very low. Many people in the state tell us how little they think of state workers while asking for our professional assistance. Think of Walker as someone who has taken the copper pipes from your home; now the plumbing doesn't work anymore. That's what he's doing to state agencies and many state workers aren't in a position to speak freely about it.ReplyDelete