Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas is singing a tune we like to hear and one that I have advocated for myself. What is it? Hidden in the Cadillac plans of public sector employees is a revenue resource that must be tapped.
Gatsas is standing up for taxpayers, and defending the spending cap, in his negotiations with the Teachers union with regard to Manchester’s School budget.
He said teachers still enjoy plans with zero deductibles, $5 co-pays and $50 charges for emergency room visits, while the police union, among others, recently made concessions to avoid layoffs, shifting to a plan with higher co-pays, deductibles and $150 per emergency room visit.
“With the $3 million in savings, we hired more police officers,” Gatsas said.
So why can’t the teachers do the same thing? It’s a great question.
There are literally millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars state wide, tied up in paying for the kind of health care benefits and retirement plans that most private sector employees only dream about–the very people funding the plans of the benefit-one-percenters. And in his particular case, Mayor Gatsas is only looking for Manchester teachers to go where the other Manchester Union employees already have, so that the city can free up 4.4 million…for education.
(If it’s really about the kids….?)
That kind of agreement would be but one small step for benefit equality, though it still would not bring those public employees anywhere near parity with their private sector counterparts. We’d need the contract negotiation equivalent of hydraulic fracturing to get even close, but you have to start somewhere.
And this is a well that must be tapped, and not just in Manchester. Town, county, and state wide elected officials have to go after these plans in every contract moving forward, and they have to ask these folks to make that choice. They can choose to lean toward benefits parity with the people who pay for those benefits for them, or they can explain why we have to cut cops, fire-fighters, teachers, or services because the public employees refused.
Grow-government-first politicians, at every level, who think that they can keep milking taxpayers while many public employees continue to enjoy their One-Precenter benefits package’s, are only setting everyone up for failure. The pension deficit is no joke. The economy is no joke. The kinds of co-pays and retirement plan funding that many have enjoyed in the past is a sick joke—and it is unsustainable.
But if everyone in the public sector accepted that over the next few years they will need take more fiscal responsibility for their own retirement, and accept that they must pay plan rates and co-pays more in line with the rest of us, and that may include paying for a majority if not all of their own future 401K and pension plan payments from their own pockets, this would free up hundreds of millions of dollars annually, across the state, for all of those other things they also claim cannot be left unfunded.
So put your money where your mouth is. Admit that you’ve had a sweet deal. Accept that people who are paying your way can’t pay your way, their own way, and sustain the growing cost of existing government, along with millions more annually in more of it. Yes, you will feel the pinch, but that ride has to end. It is unsustainable in any economy–it is nearly criminal in this one.
And it has to end or you may find that if you still even have a job when it comes time to retire, there is nothing there because there never really was.
H/T Union Leader