Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact: Wisconsin bill would even playing field for elected officials, workers

The statement

"Every (Wisconsin) legislator that votes for this bill" will have to "give up the same amount of pay" as other state employees.

Jeff Fitzgerald, Wisconsin State Assembly speaker, on Fox News Channel Tuesday

The ruling

Amid the fiery debate over benefits cuts and collective bargaining rights, we haven't heard much about how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan would personally affect the legislators who will vote on it, so we decided to check Fitzgerald's comment.

Walker's plan would require most public workers to pay half their pension costs — typically 5.8 percent of pay for state workers — and at least 12 percent of their health care costs.

A detailed analysis of Walker's proposal by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says that under Walker's plan any participant in the Wisconsin Retirement System, including elected officials, "would be required to make an employee contribution to the WRS in an amount equal to one-half of all actuarially required contributions, as approved by the Employee Trust Fund (ETF) Board."

Under current 2011 rates, one half of the general participant rate would be 5.8 percent and one half of the executive/elected official rate would be 6.65 percent. So elected officials would actually be paying a little more than government workers, said Robert Lang, director of Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

As for health benefits, the bill doesn't specifically mention the effect on elected officials. It simply talks about changes related to anyone participating in the state's "group insurance board coverage." That includes elected officials, Lang said.

There's one other piece of the bill that would affect the benefits of elected officials, and it has to do with the way pension benefits are calculated. Pension payments are based on a formula derived from the employee's salary, years of service and a set multiplier. For general employees, that multiplier is 1.6. For elected officials, the multiplier is currently 2.0. Under the budget repair bill, however, the multiplier for elected officials would drop to 1.6, the same as everyone else. Bottom line: They'll be getting less in their pension checks.

In short, Fitzgerald said the legislators who will vote on Walker's bill would have to give up the same amount of pay. Aside from the collective bargaining issues, Walker's plan would make state employees pay more for health and pension benefits. And according to the bill, elected officials would take the same hits. We rate Fitzgerald's claim True.

For the full version — and to read other rulings — go to

PolitiFact: Wisconsin bill would even playing field for elected officials, workers 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs


    A black state legislator says he was called a "nigger" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  2. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]
  3. Pasco fire station reopens after hundreds of bats forced crews out

    Human Interest

    Fire crews have returned to a Hudson fire station nearly two weeks after they were forced out by possibly thousands of bats.

    Fire crews returned to Station 39 in Hudson on June 21, 2017, nearly twoo weeks after the building was closed due to a rat infestation. [Times files]
  4. Church of England head says it 'colluded with' sex abuse


    LONDON — The Church of England "colluded" with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday.

  5. Looking Back: St. Petersburg does the Calypso with Jacques Cousteau (July 15, 1975)


    This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on July 15, 1975. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Weaver Tripp.

    Jacques Cousteau (center), Sen. John T. Ware, R-St. Petersburg (left) and an unidentified man (right) speak to the media about potentially moving the Cousteau Society to the city of St. Petersburg.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp