To the editor:
A recent study showed that it costs a private employer around $28/hour on average for each employee and around $42/hour for the government (not counting federal employees). Approximately one-third of this is for benefit packages. Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose have voted in overwhelming numbers to change the entitlement culture of public employee unions after seeing their benefit costs rise three to five times and finding that their budgets could no longer support the basic infrastructure needs of their cities. Stockton, Calif., files for bankruptcy. They realized that retiring at age 50 (with 90 percent of your last salary), paying 1 percent into your retirement fund and contributing a fraction of the costs of your health care are not sustainable work practices.
Kansans know that KPERS has a multi-billion dollar shortfall. Yet, over the past six years, the fastest growing segment of the Kansas economy was government. Some folks are upset with what they see as the undue influence that the Koch brothers may have on the electoral process, but they fail to recognize the same level of influence that comes from groups like the Service Employees International Union, who back candidates, and then extract lucrative contracts from the very politicians they helped elect (buy).
Where do our local public entities stand with the ever-burgeoning costs of public employees? Are they providing benefits above that of the private employer? If the private sector can hire qualified personnel and keep them at rates that are two-thirds of those in the public sector while employees pay substantially more into their retirement and health-care packages, why can’t government agencies?