Sunday, February 27, 2011

David Cay Johnston: Wisconsin Public Workers Contribute 100% To Pension

Investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston (left) exposed the lies of Gov. Scott Walker and the sloppiness of journalists regarding Wisconsin public service workers' pensions. Contrary to the myth that their pensions are costing taxpayers, the workers themselves contribute 100 percent in deferred compensation:

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans.

Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

How can that be? Because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system (or as the argument goes, "pay their fair share" of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin's private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.

...The collective bargaining agreements for prosecutors, cops and scientists are all on-line

Reporters should sit down, get a cup of coffee and read them. And then they could take what they learn, and what the state website says about fringe benefits, to Gov. Walker and challenge his assumptions.

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