Feb 11, 201510:25 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Madison teachers contract comes back to bite taxpayers
(page 1 of 2)
Like the Sun Prairie groundhog, the Madison school district’s teachers contract has come back to bite the taxpayer. The Madison Metropolitan School District is looking at a $20.8 million budget deficit next school year.
Good Madison liberals worried about the state balancing its budget can now look closer to home.
To balance the budget, the district will most certainly have to raise taxes again; last year’s increase was a hefty 5.4%. It will probably cut programs. It may even lay off teachers. To ease the blow, will it ask those teachers to contribute to their excellent health coverage like 99% of the rest of the world?
This is the school district that thumbed its nose at Wisconsin law, the school district that eschewed using the flexibility given it by Wisconsin Act 10, the 2011 collective bargaining reform. Madison is the only district that collects union boss John Matthews’ dues for him, the only district that requires fair share payments, the only district that does not require its employees to contribute toward their very excellent health care insurance. A district that gave teachers longevity raises of 2% and 3% on top of free health insurance.
(“A total hike in pay of 2 percent to 3 percent sounds pretty good to most private-sector workers. That’s well above inflation,” the Wisconsin State Journal editorialized at the time. According to DPI statistics, the average MMSD teacher has been teaching for 13.3 years and makes $74,328 in total compensation, including fringe benefits.)
The Madison School Board rushed to lock in this union sweetheart of a contract on June 4, 2014, before the state Supreme Court could rule — a contract not due to expire until June 30, 2016.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Madison school board member Mary Burke said, “Employee contracts and the wellness plan were negotiated and drafted, respectively, when the board did not know what the budget for that year would look like.”
Students, taxpayers get back of the line
But you voted for that contract, Ms. Mary. All seven of you did. You were running for governor, Ms. Mary. You wanted teachers union support, and that was their price. What have we been saying? Teachers union first, students and taxpayers, back of the line!
The Madison school board can go back into that contract and require employees to contribute what state and county employees contribute toward their health care. If they do that, they can pare the projected deficit down to $6 million.
Board member Ed Hughes seems to get it, but — it seems a pattern — always after the fact.
“We’re talking about taking … a machete to our programs given the cuts we’ll make because we’re the only school district in the state that’s unwilling to ask their employees to contribute to their health insurance, I think that would be an impression that we would deservedly receive ridicule for,” Hughes said.
All seven of you deserve ridicule for sneaking through a closing window to ratify that contract in the first place — only three weeks before the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Act 10 by a 5-2 vote, overturning a lower court’s stay.