Sep 8, 2009

State employees are overworked and underpaid

LANSING -- Michigan State University economics Professor Charles Ballard dispelled the myths that the public employee system in Michigan is bloated and that state workers are overpaid and have Cadillac health care benefits.

Ballard recently conducted a comprehensive study on the wages and benefits of state employees on behalf of the unions representing state employees, and he testified on Tuesday before the 13-member House Public Employee Health Care Reform Committee assigned to examine House Speaker Andy Dillon’s, D-Redford, plan to pool all public employees in state, including public school teachers. Dillon claims it will save the state up to $900 million a year.

The first myth he dispelled is that the system is bloated. The fact is state employees are dong more with less.

“We have a reduction of 11,000 workers, which is a reduction of 18 percent since 2001,” Ballard said.

Ballard earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and he has been on the faculty at MSU since 1983. He has served as a consultant with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Treasury and with research institutes in Australia, Denmark, and Finland. He is the author of two books, “Michigan at the Millennium” and “Michigan’s Economic Future.”

Ballard said state employees earn less than those in the private sector, especially those state workers with advanced degrees.

“As the skill level goes up, when you are talking about engineers and attorneys, public employees earn significantly less,” he said.

Ballard also dispelled the myth that state workers get Cadillac health care befits. The fact is they pay higher than average costs for their health care benefits. In fact, most state workers and their families have seen their health care costs double in the last couple of years.

“What I emphasize is that they are not as good as they once were,” he said. “They have made significant give backs.”

Ballard, who has spent more than 20 years looking at Michigan’s tax and budget process, said the tax revenue system is outdated. He said raising taxes made headlines in 2007, but the next day taxes were cut that didn’t make headlines.

“Our tax revenue system is broken,” he said. “To try and fix the budget with just spending cuts is irrational and draconian.”


kevins said...

so a guy who is paid by state taxpayers is hired by state unions and he produces a report that says that state employees are overworked, underpaid and don't have good benefits. Wow. Didn't see that coming.

I've looked at his reports and his methods and they are suspect in that they were designed to come up with the result he wanted.

From what I've seen, Michigan has fewer state employees per capita than other states, but pays more per capita on payroll. That would lead to a conclusion that state employees do better than the national average, which is one reason that there are fewer of them. It all makes sense.

To say that state employees have worse benefits that the private sector stretches all credibility. His argument that they have increased may be true, but it doesn't prove anything. There are teachers who used to pay $10 a week or less for health care; now they pay $20 a week. It's an increase but still far less than the typical private employee.

Andy Dillon says that benefits for Michigan state employees cost the state far more than the national average. How can he and Ballard both be correct?

Communications guru said...

No, a respected economist produced the report, brett. Oh, brett has looked at Professor Ballard’s “reports and his methods” and finds them suspect? After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I have to ask the obvious question: why would anyone give a shit what you think, brett? Where did you get your Ph.D from, brett?

Well, I’m waiting for your evidence to support your wild claims.

kevins said...

Well, you obviously care what I think.

How about this: You provide me some evidence to "debunk" Dillon's wild claims. Or don't you give a shit about what the Democratic Speaker of the House thinks?

Communications guru said...

I don’t care what you think. You came here, I didn’t go to you. I never said Dillon’s claims are wild, and I don’t recall anyone but you making that claim. I don’t agree with everything the speaker says. I‘m a Democrat, not a Republican.

kevins said...

Dillon said that benefits for Michigan's public employees are too high. He said they are higher than those of public employees in other states. He said they are higher than those in the private sector in Michigan.

His comments directly contradict those made by Ballard. Is Dillon wrong?

Communications guru said...

The problem with your “logic” is that I don’t believe Dillon ever said “that benefits for Michigan's public employees are too high.” Nor, do I believe he ever said “they are higher than those of public employees in other states,” or he said “they are higher than those in the private sector in Michigan.”