The 27th Alaska State Legislature, 2011 - 2012||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 200
Collective Bargaining By Public Employees
“An Act relating to restricting collective bargaining by certain public employees.”
Posted: March 29, 2011 : v27-LS0623-A
Status: Withdrawn By Sponsor : 2011-03-31
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was absolutely correct when he said, "We're broke." Our west coast neighbors of California, Oregon, and WA are also broke. The federal government is $14 trillion in debt and there is no more bacon to bring home. Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, in her "State of the State" address, told her citizens the truth: "No more shell games. No more rosy projections. We must tell New Mexicans the truth. Our financial house is in a mess and it's time we clean it up." Perhaps most fittingly, a former U.S. Senator serving on the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform said, "The great milk cow in the sky has dropped dead."
HB 200 is about dealing with Alaska's future while there is still time to do something. If we do nothing, we will be no different than those bankrupt states staring at their deficit and wondering why they didn't see it coming.
Can and should we continue to pay out public employees' salaries, benefits, and pensions substantially above the private sector? That is exactly what the bankrupt states did just a few years ago and that is exactly why they are facing deficits in the billions. Now they face reducing pensions and health care benefits for current retirees and those close to retirement. They may have to furlough a high percentage of the existing government employees as well. In fact, it's not just a likelihood; it's already happening.
Under HB 200, public employee unions will continue to negotiate salaries, just as before, and health and pension benefits will continue to be offered, just as before. However, health and pension benefits will require a more reasonable contribution from employees. A private company must weigh the cost of employee benefits against their bottom line. How much more should the state do so, when it's spending taxpayer money? By managing the costs, the state is actually ensuring that your retirement is more secure. If Alaska spends wisely today, it will have the funds to make good on its promises in the future - its promises to its employees and its promises to future generations.