Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why public employees are so expensive

A Good Idea:
Public employers should offer employees a BASIC insurance allowance to be spent on the type and level of coverage each employee wants.  Employees can contribute to insurance premiums over the basic limit.  Those who don't want or need as much insurance can save money, and those who need more can buy more coverage.  Taxpayers will be assured resources are allocated more fairly and efficiently.  The Basic allowance should be aligned with private company averages.  

It is wrong for government entities (cities, school districts, the federal, state and county) to tell the public it is running out of money for programs and services while it continues to grant ultra-generous benefits to public employees.  Consider:  Unlike the private sector, some public employees receive post-employment health insurance to bridge the gap between early retirement and Medicare eligibility.  ???  Did anybody tell these employees they don't have to retire after 30 years if they are under 65?  Or to at least to save enough to pay for their own insurance premiums?  But if the administrators who do the negotiating and politician who approve the contract are offering it, why not take it?

Controlling benefits won't take care of the PERS drain on our public systems - for that we need to reduce the number of public employees on the payroll.  Cutting staff and hiring more contractors for services should be done immediately.  "If you find yourself in a hole, stop..."

Responsibility for out of control employee expenses come back to the public body we elect and put in charge.  However...
  • City Councils and School District Boards are indebted to public employee unions that helped get them elected.
  • The school district and city administrators who negotiate contracts are incentivized to reward their subordinates.  
  • Unions have a lock on employees' membership and dues.
  • Insurance companies are happy to pitch their most profitable products to public employers.
Other Good Ideas:  
We need to give control of government back to the people.
  • It's time public bodies hire 3rd party negotiators to work on the taxpayers' behalf to get the issue out of the political crony network.  
  • It is past time for Oregon to become a "Right to Work" state.  Workers in all states should be free!  All workers should have their right to work protected - especially a public employee!

Health care and retirement make Oregon teachers pricey 

High health insurance and retirement costs make teachers more expensive in many Oregon school districts than in Vancouver or Boise, according to a new study by Portland State University's Center for Public Service.
And that disparity is likely to worsen as public employers' retirement costs in Oregon jump higher in the next five years to bail the state pension system out of its $22 billion funding deficit.
The study comes at a time when Oregon legislators are looking to trim both health care and retirement costs for public employees in their efforts to close a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. It is the latest of several studies from the Center for Public Service looking at public employers'
compensation costs
The biggest driver was employer-paid health insurance, which was consistently highest in Oregon. The study said the cost of that coverage ranged from $13,569 in Hillsboro to $18,713 in Lake Oswego. That compares to $10,016 in Seattle, $9,360 in Vancouver and $7,320 in Boise.
Retirement costs get a lot of attention in Oregon, as they are set to jump in each of the next three two-year budget cycles. The study looked at current costs, so it didn't take those increases – set to begin in July - into account. Districts in Washington and Idaho are not facing those increases.

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