What’s in the budget repair bill?
Cristalyne Bell, Editor in Chief
February 23, 2011
Filed under News
Governor Scott Walker introduced his “budget repair bill” on Friday, Feb. 11, as a way to combat the state’s projected deficit. Walker’s office announced an estimated deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year, and a $3.6 billion deficit in 2013. That number is currently being disputed by opponents of the bill, based off of a report released by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The following are highlights from a summary released by Governor Walker’s office.
Pension compensation: State, school district, and municipal employees that are members of the Wisconsin Retirement Company, and residents of Milwaukee city and county will contribute 50 percent of the annual pension payment, totaling approximately 5.8 percent of their salary.
Health insurance: State employees will be required to pay at least 12.6 percent of the average cost of annual premiums compared to the approximately 6 percent they currently contribute.
Pensions changes for elected official and appointees: Starting in the next term, pension calculations for elected officials and appointees will be that same as general occupation employees and teachers.
Collective bargaining: The bill would limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index unless approved by referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled.
Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts. Local law enforcement and fire employees, and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes.
State employee absences and other work actions: If the Governor has declared a state of emergency, the bill authorizes appointing authorities to terminate any employees that are absent for three days without approval of the employer or any employees that participate in an organized action to stop or slow work.
Additional employees who are prevented from collectively bargaining include the following:
Home health care workers
Family childcare workers
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics employees
University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff
Medicaid: The bill would increase the Medicaid GPR appropriation to address this shortfall.
Restructuring Department of Human Services: The department is expected to develop new approaches on program benefits, eligibility determination and provider cost-effectiveness.
Sale of State Heating Plants: The bill authorizes the Department of Administration to sell state heating plants. The proceeds from any sale, net of remaining debt service, would be deposited in the budget stabilization fund.