WEAC on the wane
August 18, 2011
We can’t recall anyone looking at a state budget one month after it took effect and remarking on how it had worked. But the current budget is no business-as-usual tax and spending plan. At the beginning of August, one month in, changes were already measurable.
For instance, Democrats said school districts would suffer terribly.
Let’s check that out:
- Appleton—saves $3.1 million through competition among health insurance providers.
- Ashland—saved almost $378,000 thanks to being free to choose its health insurance provider.
- Baraboo—switched insurance providers to save $660,000 next year.
- Edgerton—anticipates insurance savings of $500,000.
- Elmbrook—estimates savings through health insurance changes at $878,000.
- Fond du Lac—will save enough to offset a $4.4 million budget shortfall.
- Kaukauna—will hire more teachers, reduce class sizes and introduce merit pay.
- Kimberly—saved $821,000 by changing insurance providers.
This represents only one aspect of the budget bill’s positive impact, breaking the teacher union’s near-monopoly status as health insurance provider to school districts, It may be only the beginning.
For decades WEAC, the statewide teacher union, has been the 800-pound gorilla of Wisconsin politics. WEAC and affiliates directed almost $900,000 against Republican senators in last week’s recalls, and that’s just what legally has to be reported. But just as school districts are now free to choose insurance providers, public employees are now free to decide annually whether their union is doing them any good and whether to pay the dues government employers will no longer automatically withhold. School districts can recognize a chance to save money. We’ll bet their employees can too.