The governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, a Republican, is taking on government employee unions in the state, the New York Times reports. The Times says that among the "key provisions" of the governor's plan are, "requiring government workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their pay to their pensions, much more than now; and requiring state employees to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums (most pay about 6 percent now)."
The Times doesn't do a good job of putting this in context. If it had tried, it could have mentioned that in most of America, the employee contribution is 27% of the cost of the health insurance premium. Mr. Walker is moving in the right direction, but if the goal is overall compensation for public employees somewhere on level with the compensation of the private-sector taxpayers who are employing the public employees, even Mr. Walker's plan only takes Wisconsin halfway there. As for pension contributions, there aren't many places at all in the non-government part of the economy that offer what Wisconsin now does, which is a defined benefit pension plan with virtually no employee contribution. More information on Wisconsin public pensions is available in this report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute: "In Wisconsin, 88% of employers offer defined contribution plans compared to just 8% that offer defined benefit plans – the kind that are offered by all government employers."