You are most welcome.
The Lord High Commissioner of the Blaska Policy Werkes tried to save Madison taxpayers $16 million. Sixteen Million Dollars, my liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances, that will have to come out of your pockets and mine.
Why? Because $16 million is how much Madison schools stand to lose in state aid.
Why are we losing out on that large amount of money? Because the Madison Public School District refused to follow the dictates of state law. Because a complaisant judge refused to enforce the law.
We tried. Blaska brought suit against the school district and its teachers union in June 2015. (Madison resident Norm Sannes joined the lawsuit later.) We were represented by the capable attorneys of the Wisconsin Institute on Law and Liberty. We made the case that MPS and Madison Teachers Inc. were in violation of state law, specifically Act 10 of 2011, because the district continued to collect dues for the union, continued to contract for teaching hours, conditions, etc., and were not requiring employees to contribute to their own generous health insurance coverage as statutorily required.
We lost our case. In December 2015, Dane County Circuit Judge Peter Anderson held that the district and the union hammered out their sweetheart deal in the brief window created when fellow judge Juan Colas in September 2012 ruled that Act 10 was unconstitutional. Within months, that judge was reversed by the state supreme court.
Judge Anderson, in effect, said the case was moot because it had dragged so long that the illegally (in our opinion) negotiated contract had expired and the district had gone to a handbook instead of a contract.
For years, Madison district teachers contributed nothing — zero, zip, nada — for their generous health insurance. Only at the beginning of this school year was some contribution required. The required contributions range from 1.5% (is this a joke?) to 10% for administrators — all well below the 12% required by state law — a percentage that state government employees and school district employees in the rest of the state have adhered to. But not Madison!
UPDATE: School Board member Ed Hughes counters that “MMSD is in full compliance with Act 10. Act 10 prohibits local governmental entities that participate in the Public Employer Group Health Insurance program from paying more than 88% of the premiums. MMSD has never participated in this program.”
Technically true but an evasion of the cost savings implicit in Act 10. The concept that an employee should pay a nominal amount of his/her health insurance — say, 12% — is hardly draconian. Whatever the health insurance provider, Madison sticks taxpayers with up to 98.5% of the cost per employee.
Now Governor Walker proposes enforcing the law through the budget, namely, the allocation of state financial aid.
‘The Madison Way’
Madison School officials are predictably all boo-hoo. Molly Beck in today’s Wisconsin State Journal quotes the district’s budget director to say:
“We understand the idea of efficient use of taxpayers resources. We’ve come at it the Madison way and we think we’ve been successful.”
“The Madison Way!” Call it the Madison version of nullification, that discredited maneuver by the slave-holding states of the antebellum South to dodge federal legislation it did not like.
Passing along the negligible costs (12%) properly borne by the beneficiaries of that of platinum-level health coverage to the taxpayer is “efficient use of taxpayer resources?” Now keep making taxpayers throughout the state subsidize our generosity for, it’s the Madison Way!
Did Madison believe it could continue to flout state law and no one in the State Capitol would notice? Or is the school board so arrogant that it didn’t care?