My colleague, Bob Costrell, has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal that tells you the one number you need to know to understand the dispute over collective bargaining and public employee compensation in Wisconsin. It is 74.2. That is how many cents the public pays Milwaukee Public School (MPS) employees for retirement and health benefits for each dollar of salary. The comparable figure for private sector employees is 24.3.
Bob explains exactly how benefits in Milwaukee could cost nearly as much as salary. In short, it has to do with the fact that the public pays the employee as well as the employer contributions to the pension. Teachers actually were given a second, additional pension by MPS. And the public pays for the entire cost of a gold-plated health plan for current and retired employees. All of this was obtained in collective bargaining negotiations.