Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin shows Delaware how it's done

Delaware Governor Jack Markell was acosted by a state worker at a townhall this week who asked "When am I going to get a pay raise?"  Markell answered, "I don't know...I don't know..."  With everything going on in Wisconsin with the public employee unions protesting Gov. Scott Walker's decision to close the state's $1.8 Billion shortfall by asking the public employees to...*GASP* contribute to their retirement plans, healthcare and the bill would " make various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by referendum."  In addition, Walker's bill cuts elected official and political appointee retirement calculations down to public employee levels.  Currently, those officials are given higher payouts.  Another contention with the bill is the removal of collective baraining for certain state workers such as family child care workers,  University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic employees, University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff.  In short, "This bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages. In addition, unless a referendum authorizes a greater increase, any general employee who is part of a collective bargaining unit is limited to bargaining over a percentage of total base wages increase that is no greater than the percentage change in the consumer price index."
You can read the bill summary here and the full bill here.

The bill calls on public sector employees to up their healthcare contribution from 6% to 12% (the average private sector employee contributes 24% to their plan) and it calls on them to contribute 5% to their pensions while the average private sector worker contributes just over 50% to their plans.
Walker's bill has led to teachers unions and other employees unions staging walkouts, using CHILDREN as protest tools (despite the fact that most of the children have NO IDEA why they are protesting).  It has led to teachers and other union members carrying signs depicting Scott Walker as Hitler, placing bullseye targets on him and even calling Gov. Walker, a dictator.  The video below depicts some of the scenes from the Wisconsin protests and the rhetoric (that I remember the left BLASTING the TEA Party for after a left leaning psychopath shot a Democrat Congresswoman):

So what does this have to do with Delaware?  Well, as I mentioned, state workers (and their union leaders) right here in Delaware are beginning to call for pay raises and they have been resistent to any changes in their current compensation package.  Delaware is facing a $280 million budget shortfall and since Delaware has a balanced budget amendment that gap must be closed.  Delaware's largest employer is the state of Delaware which is followed by New Castle County government and therefore, government workers are one of the greatest costs to the state.  This includes police, EMS, teachers, inspectors, clerks, mechanics, electricians, construction workers, drivers, office managers, etc. and is not limited to public safety employees despite the fact that the left will point to teachers, police and EMS technicians as the only people affected.

I want the people at the top to take the cuts first like everyone else.  I want to see our politicians and public servants sacrificing FIRST.  Governor Markell likes to talk about the 20% paycut he took but he fails to mention that the office of the Governor had an 18% pay INCREASE when he was elected.  He then took a 10% pay cut right off the top, meaning that the office of the Governor actually got an 8% pay INCREASE when he took office.  Now he has taken another 20% pay cut after his 8% raise.  So he has now finally taken a 15% pay CUT from where he SHOULD have been when he was elected.  So while I would like the cuts to come from the top, there comes a point where we have to realize that cutting the pay at the top will not solve all of the budget problems.  There also comes a point where the state has to recognize that it is living beyond its means and needs to change the way it does business. It’s time to make cuts and these unions and state workers with these incredible compensation plans to recognize that they have been living beyond their means:

State workers and their union leadership are beginning to spend time and money pointing out that the state workers are being punished for planning for their retirement and that they are the scapegoats for the economic disaster.  They are saying that state workers make less in pay than those int he private sector in exhcange for better benefits.  I decided to look into these "facts" and what I've found is a bit disturbing.  The average salary for FT state workers in Delaware is $50,124.  The average Delaware worker’s salary (including public AND private sector employees is $46,270. Some simple math helps you find out that the average private sector worker makes $42,416 which is almost $8,000 LESS than state workers. Not to mention, we private sector workers pay for our medical plans…which the state workers don't.  State workers (as illustrated below) pay nothing for their healthcare or their family's healthcare unless they want the ultra-high end plan with little to no office co-pays and other "perks" that many private sector employees don't even have the option to purchase. The chart below details the payouts from the state and from the state employees per month in order to receieve the plans.  You will also notice that they pay a whopping $193 per mth for the highest end plan.  The average private sector worker pays around $250 per mth for a MUCH less comprehensive plan.  In fact, the avg private sector worker pays $250 per month for the same plan that the Delaware state workers pay $82.44 per month for.

Oh and their definied benefit package which they call "prudent planning"?  They contribute 3%. jus like the average private sector employee.  So what is the difference?  The state contributes 7.5% MORE to that plan but in the private sector you MIGHT get the 3% matched by your employer if you are lucky.  The real problem is that the average private sector employee contributes to a defined CONTRIBUTION plan that grows as you contribute which is called a 401(k) whereas the state workers contribute to a defined benefit package that grows at an ASSUMED rate (meaning it could grow less or more) of 8% per year.  NOTHING is growing at 8% per year right now and that is why these plans are rarely offered in the private sector.  These plans are usually only seen in industries where unions control the collective bargaining and negotiations.  Unions have such a stranglehold on political candidates and wield so much power today that they often have a TREMENDOUS advantage over corporations and even governments.  Let's remember here that While that doesn't mean we shouldn't honor the committments we've made in the past, these are CLEAR reasons why we should follow the example of Gov. Walker in Wisconsin and restructure the deals going forward.  A final look over the pension funding shows that Delaware has about $700 million in unfunded liabilities.

It's pretty clear from our look over the FACTS that the union leaders and their spokespersons are at best misleading Delaware citizens and at worst, out right lying to the people.  I will leave it to you to decide which it is but the facts are unmistakeable.  State workers make more than private sector workers on average, they pay less for their healthcare benefits and they contribute far less than the average state worker to a pension plan that most people couldn't even dream of.  It's time to fix our fiscal house and it's time to decrease the size and scope of our government.  Noone wants to see people unemployed but unfortunately, that means we have to look into how to make government more efficient and how to transition public employees to private sector employment.  Of course, that means that the government will have to actually help the private sector create jobs, something Alan Levin and Jack Markell can't seem to wrap their arms around...but that's for another post.


  1. I really am starting to think the government thinks we're all stupid. Most Americans realize if you earn less than you spend, you have a deficit.

    Hard times call for hard choices. I want leaders with moral courage and balls, not the jack-wagons currently in power here.

    Government needs to do what good parents do:

    SAY NO!

    No, you cannot have a raise.
    No, you cannot have additional benefits unless you produce certain results.
    No, you can't have ice cream before dinner.

    And by the way, I thank you for your service to our country. I wanted to serve but my bad knee kept me from wearing a uniform.

  2. Thanks Christa! You're exactly right, we as Americans already know what needs to be done, now we just have to make sure government does it.