September 9, 2011 - It's working!
Madison— Since Governor Walker signed the 2011-13 state budget into law, tangible results from the reforms put in place by Governor Walker and the Legislature are continuing to be realized. According to media reports, local units of government and school districts have already saved more than $220 million, with millions more in potential savings not yet reported.
Below is an updated list of local units of governments being able to balance their budget and improve services due to the reforms contained in the 2011-13 state budget and Act 10:
City of Milwaukee
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Despite early criticism from city officials, new figures show Milwaukee will gain more than it will lose next year from the state's controversial budget and budget-repair legislation.
The city projects it will save at least $25 million a year - and potentially as much as $36 million in 2012 - from health care benefit changes it didn't have to negotiate with unions, as a result of provisions in the 2009-'11 budget-repair measure that ended most collective bargaining for most public employees.
That saving would be partly offset by about $14 million in cuts in state aid to the city in the 2011-'13 state budget. The figure is down from earlier estimates of more than $17 million, after the Legislature scaled back Gov. Scott Walker's proposed cuts in aid for local streets and recycling. Reference.
Hudson School District
Health Partners and Delta Dental will provide the insurance to Hudson School District employees beginning Oct. 1. The change will save the district an estimated $1.1-1.2 million annually. Reference.
Germantown School District
Germantown had gone to several major carriers to receive quotes, but only two companies bid: Humana and Wisconsin Educators Association Trust, the district's current carrier.
In doing so, the district received two bids from each carrier, one saving the district $750,000 and another saving $1 million. Business Director Rick Ericksen advised that the most prudent course of action would be to remain with WEA Trust, which would still save the district the desired $1 million and a more seamless transition given the time frame. Reference.
Ashland School District
A health insurance provider switch saved Ashland School District nearly $378,000. Reference.
Kimberly School District
The district saved $821,000 by dropping WEA Trust. Reference.
Edgerton School District
The district will drop the union's current health insurance carrier, the WEA Trust. The district is gathering bids to change to a different health insurance provider, which Pauli said could save at least $500,000 over the next year. Reference.
Baraboo School District
The Baraboo School Board expects to save about $660,000 next year after deciding to change insurance providers Monday evening. Reference.
Dodgeland School District
The Dodgeland School Board made the decision to change insurance companies.
Administrator Annette Thompson said the change will help the board deal with the expected $640,000 budget deficit from reduced state aid and expiration of some federal and AARA funds. The change in providers is expected to save the district $260,000 next year. Reference.
Elmbrook School District
The district originally had planned for $780,000 in savings through the health-care changes, but Brightman said the actual savings are estimated at $878,000. He said some of that money likely will be needed to pay for staffing - probably a half-time equivalent clerical position - to administer the new plan. Reference.
Mequon-Thiensville School District
Delta Dental's quotes also came in lower than those provided by WEA Trust. Beaudry said the district will save $49,000 in the 2011-12 budget cycle by switching to Delta Dental. Reference.
Marshfield School District
Marshfield will balance its budget despite the cuts. "Given the cost savings with health insurance and the turnover with staff and new hires, we will be able to preserve our programs and come up with a balanced budget," said Peg Geegan, the district's director of instruction who will assume the superintendent's position Aug. 1. The district will save $850,000 by switching health insurance carriers…Reference.
Fond du Lac School District
District leaders believe when school starts in the fall they'll be operating with a balanced budget. They say the savings under the bill will offset their 4.4 million dollar budget shortfall. Class sizes and programs will also remain in tact.
Changes to the health insurance plan that offered a $7,000 stipend to employees who did not take health insurance will save the district around $236,000, Sebert said. If both spouses are employed by the district, the employees are eligible for two single plans or one family plan. Reference I. Reference II.
City of Sheboygan and Sheboygan County
City of Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan and Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne said the collective bargaining reforms will provide enough savings to make up for the reductions in state aid. "We were able to lock in savings and certainty due to the discussions going on in Madison," Payne said. Reference.
Wauwatosa School District
The tax levy is projected to decrease, no programs will be cut, and class sizes won’t increase by any significant measure. School board member Phil Kroner: "When students come to school in the fall, they're going to see the same things, have the same teachers, and they're going to see new things as well. Reference.
Laid-off city workers may get their jobs back after the city moves forward with the wage and benefit reforms contained in the budget. And Overtime rules have changed saving the county $100,000. Reference I. Reference II.
They will see up to a 9% decrease in the school portion of their property tax levy. "It will be wonderful for our taxpayers, who have been extremely committed to our schools," School Board President Julie Strenn said, noting three years ago, voters approved a three-year revenue cap override that cost taxpayers an additional $175,000 each year… "This is the first year we have not needed to short-term borrow.” Reference.
Paul Hauffe, director of business services said, “administrators are poised to introduce a balanced budget in mid-July… We're very close right now, there's nothing monumental that we have to overcome." Reference.
Appleton Area School District
They will save $3.1 million just in health insurance costs alone due to competition among health insurance providers. Financial advisors for the school district said:
· Discussions at the state level over collective bargaining and budgeting issues have been beneficial to school districts from the rate perspective.
· It forced a lot of competition. I do think the landscape in the school marketplace has changed significantly over the last year that's put significant pressure on WEA Trust. Previously to this year, they didn't have a lot of competition. Historically, it's very difficult for other carriers to match them.
· The $3.1 million in savings for next school year is just in health insurance premium costs.
Inmates can do routine maintenance tasks so that county employees can spend more time working on projects that improve the community. County Executive Jim Ladwig said inmates will be able to perform more tasks such as landscaping, painting, and shoveling sidewalks in the winter. “We have a win-win when we use the inmates,” Ladwig said. “It gives them a sense of value they are helping the community.” At the same time, he said it will help the county maintain property that has been neglected. Reference I. Reference II.
Kaukauna School District
They will hire additional teachers, reduce projected class sizes from 26 to 23 students at the elementary level, 28 students to 26 students at the intermediate/middle level, and 31 students to 25 students at the high school level and set aside money for merit bonuses for good teachers. “Due to the law change the District’s projected operating budget has moved from a negative $400,000 to approximately a positive $1,500,000. Earmarked in the operating budget are $300,000 related to merit pay, a program being explored for all staff by the district for the 2011-2012 school year.”
WCA Group Health Trust, an affiliate of the Wisconsin Counties Association, Madison, will become the school district's sole provider of health insurance while Delta Dental will assume the dental coverage.
"The district will be able to provide nearly the exact same coverage to its staff members at a cost that is 8 percent less than it would have paid through the previous carrier," Todd Arnoldussen, president of the school board, said in a statement. Reference I. Reference II. Reference III.
Hartland-Lakeside School Board
They switched insurance providers and saved taxpayers $690,000. Reference.