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Unions

States employ 19 million workers - 15 percent of the nation’s workforce and six times as many workers as the federal government employs, according to the State Budget Crisis Task Force.

Salaries and benefits for those employees account for around 30 percent of the state general fund in most states. Benefits alone accounting for more than a third of that cost, meaning that about 10 percent of state general fund expenditures now go to benefits for currently employed workers, many of whom are represented by unions. The cost is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained. To have any hope of achieving fiscal health in the future, states will need to redesign their benefit systems and evaluate state employee salaries.

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    • HEADLINES: Illinois, Indiana, Maine , Massachusetts , Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina , Oklahoma

      Special Edition Williams Report July 2, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | July 2, 2014

      Welcome to a special edition of the Williams Report! There has been a lot of news this week: an important U.S.Supreme Court decision on unions and the end of the fiscal year in many states have been in the headlines. Join us on Twitter today by following @StateBudgets and tweeting with the hashtag #SBSBob.

    • HEADLINES: California, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina , Pennsylvania, Washington, Louisiana, Montana, Virginia

      Williams Report - June 23, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | June 23, 2014

      The latest news from State Budget Solutions, including commentary from Bob Williams. Tweet #SBSBob to talk about state budget and pension headlines throughout the nation.

    • HEADLINES: Illinois

      Judge halts Illinois pension reform law

      The Chicago Tribune | by Ray Long | May 15, 2014

      Retiree groups and a union coalition called We Are One Illinois won a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Sangamon County Circuit Court that will put the law on hold and prevent it from taking effect on June 1.

    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      RI pension case will go forward in court; mediation fails

      The Providence Journal | by Randal Edgar | April 11, 2014

      In a joint statement, Governor Chafee and state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said that while they there was a strong effort to reach a mediated settlement, the rejection of that settlement "by a small group of union members" means the process "has failed and the mediation process has ended."

    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      Rhode Island is considering options on pension deal, Chafee says

      The Boston Globe | April 10, 2014

      Governor Lincoln Chafee said Rhode Island is considering various options on how to proceed with lawsuits brought over the state's landmark pension overhaul, after a proposed deal was rejected by members of police unions.

    • HEADLINES

      Some state pensions in dire straits

      USA Today | by Dustin Racioppi | March 21, 2014

      Not making payments to the pension funds, or only paying a portion of what an actuary has recommended, is largely what got these debt-burdened states to where they are today, experts say.

    • HEADLINES: New Mexico

      Governor wants NM to stop collecting union dues

      Associated Press | March 21, 2014

      Contract talks with state employee unions are at an impasse because New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants the state to stop collecting union dues through withdrawals from employees' paychecks, the governor said.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California Controller John Chiang proposes prefunding state retiree health care

      Sacramento Bee - State Worker | by Jon Ortiz | March 10, 2014

      A new tally of unfunded state retiree health care costs shows long-term obligations grew by hundreds of millions of dollars last year, prompting Controller John Chiang to propose a plan on Thursday to chip away at the debt..

       

    • HEADLINES: Wisconsin

      Wisconsin's Legacy for Unions

      New York Times | by Steven Greenhouse | February 24, 2014

      Governor Scott Walker’s landmark law — called Act 10 — severely restricted the power of public-employee unions to bargain collectively, and that provision, among others, has given social workers, prison guards, nurses and other public employees little reason to pay dues to a union that can no longer do much for them.

    • HEADLINES

      Common-Core Tensions Cause Union Heartburn

      Education Week | by Andrew Ujifusa and Stephen Sawchuk | February 20, 2014

      From the early days of the Common Core State Standards, the two national teachers' unions have been among the initiative's biggest boosters, helping to make the case to the nation's 3.5 million teachers for the tougher expectations and putting significant money into the development of aligned curricula and tools.

      But in some union quarters, that support is starting to waver—the product of flawed implementation in states, concerns about the fast timeline for new testing tied to the standards, and, in at least one instance, fallout from internal state-union politics.


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    • RESEARCH: Pennsylvania

      Public vs. Private Employment and Pay

      Commonwealth Foundation | February 25, 2011

      Pennsylvania's private sector lost 113,600 jobs while state and local governments added 40,200 positions between 2000 and 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    • RESOURCES: Pennsylvania

      Public Employee Pensions and Benefits

      The Commonwealth Foundation | February 11, 2011

      A compilation of websites presenting research and opinion on Pennsylvania's pension funds.

    • POLICY BRIEF

      State Government Redesign Efforts 2009 and 2010

      October 18, 2010

      The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has been tracking states' efforts to downsize and redesign government. In FY 2009 and 2010, a broad range of budget cuts and programmatic changes were enacted; some of the changes are temporary but most reflect a new normal for state government in the long term. This Issue Brief examines these actions and others that governors have been taking to deal with the austere budget reality.

    • RESEARCH: Ohio

      Dipped in Gold

      The Buckeye Institute | by Mary McCleary | October 1, 2010

      Making public servants millionaires when they retire is not a bargain you agreed to as a taxpayer. The secretive Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which allows public safety officials to double dip, is yet another program created by our governmental leaders that is totally disconnected from the economic realities facing most Ohioans.

    • POLICY BRIEF: California

      High Taxes and Big Government Are the Problem, Not the Solution for California

      by Mike Barnhart, Bryan Leonard | May 6, 2010

      For the past two decades, higher taxes and Big Government have been the norm in California, with predictably disastrous results. Unless the load is lifted from California taxpayers, yet more thousands will lose their homes and jobs and savings, and another million and a half residents will go elsewhere to pursue their dreams.


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    • SOLUTIONS

      Why government employee collective bargaining laws must be reformed now

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | December 5, 2012

      There are three important lessons from the Wisconsin collective bargaining battles over the past eighteen months:

      1. The power of the government-sector unions and their impact on elections is greatly overestimated. With the November 2012 victory for  Senate Republicans to regain control of the Wisconsin Senate,  government employee union  suffered their sixth  major defeat since March 2011.

      2. When given a choice, government employees will quit their union in large numbers.

      3. Government employees' salaries and benefits, particularly pensions, are financially unsustainable in most states and collective bargaining reform is needed.

    • SOLUTIONS: California

      Reform Before Revenue: How to Fix California's Retiree Health-Care Problem

      The Manhattan Institute | by Stephen D. Eide | October 31, 2012

      This paper examines the ongoing fiscal crisis caused by health-care plans for retirees (known as "other post-employment benefits," or OPEB) in one of the hardest-hit states, California, and outlines necessary reforms that should come before tax increases or cuts to government services.

    • SOLUTIONS: Wisconsin

      Benefit Reform Could Save School Districts Hundreds of Million$

      The MacIver Institute | November 29, 2011

      Public officials can help alleviate their budget crunches by offering competitive, not exorbitant benefits.

    • SOLUTIONS: Ohio

      Solving Our State Fiscal Challenges

      The Buckeye Institute | by Matt A. Mayer | November 29, 2011

      Advocating for collective bargaining reforms because unless base compensation adjustmentst happen, taxes will have to go up.

    • SOLUTIONS: Washington

      Top 10 Ideas to Cut Waste, Balance the Budget and Stimulate the Economy Without Raising Taxes

      The Freedom Foundation | by Amber Gunn | November 4, 2011

      Ten ideas to cut waste and balance the buget without raising taxes, including more efficient K-12 funding, spending high education tax dollars more wisely and rein in state employee salaries and benefits.

    • SOLUTIONS: Oregon

      How to Turn Oregonís Business Climate Around

      The Cascade Policy Institute | by Steve Buckstein | November 3, 2011

      Article presenting the elimination of the Oregon state income tax and the end forced unionism as solutions to both budget problems and lack of business growth.

    • SOLUTIONS: Arizona

      No Taxpayer Subsidies for Public Employee Unions

      The Goldwater Institute | by Nick Dranias | October 28, 2011

      the Goldwater Institute recommends that Arizona join North Carolina and other states that completely prohibit state and local government officials from contracting with public employee unions, requiring all employment relationships to be individually negotiated.

    • SOLUTIONS

      Sweeping the Shop Floor

      The Freedom Foundation | by Rachel Culbertson | February 26, 2011

      This study from the Freedom Foundation shows how America's labor laws are seriously outdated and explores possible solutions based on reforms that have worked in other countries.

    • SOLUTIONS: Michigan

      Reconsidering Michigan's Public Employment Relations Act

      Mackinac Center | by Paul Kersey | February 25, 2011

      No area of public policy in Michigan is more in need of fresh thinking than the relationship between government and its employees. With Michigan's recurring government budget struggles, and with a new Legislature and governor espousing a commitment to performance, efficiency and accountability in government, a new labor law for government employees is imperative.

    • SOLUTIONS: Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, California, Louisiana, Colorado

      What Works: Fixing State Budgets

      by Kelly William Cobb | April 19, 2010

      Paper suggesting a variety of ways to fixing state budgets in crisis, including freezing or slowing public employee salary growth, privatizing infrastructure and state operations, eliminating prevailing wage and placing constitutional limits on taxing and spending.


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