Illinois legislators are working hard this legislative session to clear off debts and bills that have been draining the state’s budget. Yet one thing that we should begin to look at as we eliminate our debt are ways to prevent it from occurring again, and there’s nothing wrong with learning a thing or two from our neighbors.
The Washington Examiner reported last year on how the Hartland-Lakeside School District in Wisconsin was able to cut costs by scaling back the crippling costs of healthcare collective bargaining. The district was in contract to purchase health insurance from Wisconsin Education Association (WEA) Trust, which charged much higher rates opposed to other private sector plans available in the open market. During due diligence research, school officials found that United HealthCare offered more affordable deals for coverage of employees. This would save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars that were needed for other educational needs. Yet despite uncovering these cost-saving measures, the teachers’ union officials would not allow it.
When Wisconsin’s new budget law came into effect, it limited collective bargaining powers of some public employees which in turn allowed the Hartland-Lakeside teachers’ collective bargaining agreement to expire on June 30. They switched insurers. The total savings of this for one school year is $690,000, according to the article. When we are talking about taxpayer savings with a comparable health plan school districts should be allowed this flexibility. There are over 400 school districts in Wisconsin. The additional costs of healthcare collective bargaining are massive.
This change to the state law has been able to save over half a million dollars for one Wisconsin school district. It is important to look past the rhetoric in political campaigns to see what is happening to the taxpayers and how collective bargaining by public employees has ultimately become a huge cost to all involved.
It is important that we use examples like the Hartland-Lakeside School District to find all sorts of ways to cut costs, for both the state and local levels. The current status of our state’s financial crisis is frightening and it is important that we all work together, both legislators and the public, in order to identify all cost-saving measures to get Illinois back on track.
Thanks for your time,