It is good to some common sense in the courts. Employers, including school districts after Act 10, are entitled to modify benefits. The notion that once a benefit is given that it must be maintained for all eternity is the kind of delusional thinking that only seems to make sense in a union hall.
NEENAH — Six Neenah teachers will appeal after a Winnebago County Judge dismissed their case against the Neenah Joint School District last week.
The school district changed its retirement benefits after Act 10 to avoid more than $100 million in costs over the next 22 years. The decision reduced annual employee stipends and health insurance coverage from a possible $300,000 per employee to $99,000 or less per person.
The school board is pleased with Key’s decision, board president Scott Thompson said in a statement.
“Tough choices don’t make everyone happy, but it would be impossible to operate the district if we got sued every time someone disagreed with our decisions,” he said. “We modified the retirement plan to allow the district to continue a healthy financial state while maintaining an early retirement plan — in addition to the state mandated retirement benefits — for our teachers.”
Also, notice the numbers in the health insurance coverage. Here’s a better explanation about what they changed:
The district has long offered an early retirement plan, separate from the state’s pension fund. Benefits could total $300,000 or more for each employee.
According to the district, the plan cost taxpayers almost $5 million annually. It also meant the district had a more than $184 million unfunded liability.
Back in October, the school board changed the lucrative plan for qualified employees. The new plan got rid of yearly stipends and health insurance.
Instead, teachers were offered payments of $99,000 or less. That decreased the district’s liability to just more than $100 million.
What the teachers are suing over is a change in their lavish secondary retirement plan on top of their already generous state pension plan.
Whenever I look at the details of how out of control some of these local units of government were (and still are), I am filled with another wave of gratitude for Act 10.