MacIver News Service | April 23, 2012
[Madison, Wisc...] One billion dollars.
That's how much the state, school districts and local governments in Wisconsin have saved thanks to the budget flexibility provided by Act 10, according to the Governor's office.
"This is a significant milestone--more than one billion dollars worth of documented savings for the taxpayers have been realized from the structural government reforms made last year," said the Republican governor. "We made the tough decisions necessary to ensure our children and grandchildren were not buried under a mountain of economically crippling debt."
Savings from Act 10. Source: Office of Gov. Scott Walker
Amongst the state's 15 largest school districts, 12 have created substantial savings from using the budget bill's tools. The three others, who refused to reopen their contracts to enact employee contributions, resorted to large layoffs of staff
Act 10's labor reforms allowed many school boards and local governments to make job-saving changes when it comes to district costs. In no place has this been as apparent as when districts bid out for insurance coverage. Many communities are switching their health insurers through open bidding that allows private vendors to compete for contracts. Redesigning the benefit plan and providing options also is providing savings
Walker's office announced the one billion dollars in savings are documented through hundreds of media reports, local budgets, and surveys of local government officials throughout the state. They say the results show that the total savings exceeded reductions in state aid.
Walker says the billion dollars saved through the reforms are one of the reasons that property taxes for the median value Wisconsin property taxpayer went down for the first time in over a decade.
Walker compared the path taken by Wisconsin with those chosen by others.
"While some states implemented massive tax increases and others laid off thousands of public employees, we chose a better way," said Walker. "We protected property taxpayers and maintained services."
Last week, Walker announced that for the first time in 12 years, the typical home owner in Wisconsin is paying a smaller amount of property taxes than the year before. The median tax bill for a home owner is now $2.952, compared to $2.963 last year, according to the Governor's office
Findings highlighted by Walker's office today include:
- School districts that reported competitively bidding out their health insurance plan saved $220 saved per pupil per year on average
- Local units of government are making government more efficient by sharing services and ending expensive practices such as overtime abuses
- These savings do not include health insurance savings from CESA's, special districts, 68% of school districts, and many local governments in Wisconsin
- Extending the health savings of school districts that were documented to all school districts would add an additional $100 million of taxpayer savings
- The Department of Corrections has reduced overtime costs by over $2 million in just three months compared to the previous year