Boots & Sabers

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0832, 12 Feb 19

Bill Introduced to Add Jailers to Protective Status


WEST BEND — County officials are so concerned about a possible new state mandate that they will consider passing an advisory resolution when they meet Wednesday night.

The “new mandate” idea, being circulated at the state capital, would create an option for county jail staff to become protective status employees in the

Wisconsin Retirement System. The proposal at the state level is called Assembly Bill 5 and Senate Bill 5. Waukesha County officials are also working to let local state lawmakers know of their concern. The Washington County advisory resolution calls for the completion of an actuarial study before the bill becomes law to ensure that creating the opt-in for county jail staff would not negatively impact county taxpayers or current WRS enrollees.

Here’s the deal… the Wisconsin Retirement System classifies some government jobs as “protective occupations.” The classification is intended to give government employees who are responsible for public safety an option to retire earlier than other government employees. It generally includes police and firefighters. That option to retire early comes at additional cost to the taxpayers. After all, if a police officer is retiring at 55, the taxpayers have to pay her retirement while also paying for her replacement to fill the job. It is an expensive perk, but one that we have chosen to extend in recognition of the importance and physical demands of the job.

The bill referenced in the article is being sponsored by Republicans and would add jailers to the list of protective occupations and allow them to retire early – at taxpayers’ expense. Fortunately, I don’t see any of my representatives sponsoring the bill, but there are some traditionally conservative legislators on the list.

This bill is bad for two reasons. First, it will be expensive. Second, there is a pervasive shortage of jailers in the state. Allowing a swath of them to retire early will only exacerbate the problem. While being a jailer is an honorable and necessary job, the taxpayers should not be finding an early retirement perk for it.


0832, 12 February 2019


  1. steveegg

    The usual rule that anything co-sponsored by Chris Larson is a horrible thing applies here.

  2. dad29

    It is NOT a coincidence that this bill is being put forward now; there’s a great deal of emotional sympathy for LEO’s.  And Republicans, notoriously Walker, usually pander for LEO votes.

  3. Owen

    There also seems to be a lot of pent up desire by some Republicans to spend, spend, spend. They are camouflaging their spending inclinations with the shawl of “bipartisanship”

  4. Le Roi du Nord

    One of the reasons for the bill is to encourage folks to make a career of being a jailer.  Presently very few, at least up here, make it to the current retirement age.   As you noted, there is a shortage of qualified folks applying for the jobs, and there is a lot of movement and competition between counties and the state for good candidates. In our county and all the surrounding ones there is a constant recruitment effort.   And keeping good folks on the job longer reduces the cost of training replacements.

  5. Owen

    The current shortage is being driven largely by the fact that we have low unemployment and rising wages. I’d be far more supportive of increasing pay for jail personnel than saddling the taxpayers with an obligation that stretches a lifetime (literally) into the future. By increasing pay, we can attract more applicants, retain them longer, and they can supplement their retirement if they want to. Creating a generational debt to solve for a temporary labor shortage is what drives bankruptcy.

  6. Le Roi du Nord

    Pay me now, or pay me later.  Look at the total compensation package, wages, health, retirement.  And look at how that package for jailers (and public employees in general) has dropped in value since Act 10.  Keeping an employee on the job longer is cheaper than training one every year or two.  And the retirement benefit is enhanced by interest and dividends earned by ETF over the length of the career and beyond.   Wages are paid out of todays $$.   A recruit with a long-view of  career compensation is wise to choose the  retirement benefit over the instant gratification.


  7. dad29

    Were it merely “spend, spend, spend,” Owen.  I also detect the fetid odor of “Tax, Tax, Tax!!!” coming from the Capitol dome…..

  8. Owen

    That methodology also leads to a lot of mediocre dead-enders who are just doing enough to get by until their retirement kicks in.

    I have always been an advocate of keeping the fully-burdened cost of public employees (including retirement benefits) competitive with the private sector. The key to that is that it has to go both ways. When labor is cheap for a particular job role, the taxpayers should get a bargain. The problem with the lifetime value of a defined benefit plan is that once it is granted, it is permanent. It robs the taxpayers of the ability to adjust compensation packages to the market.


  9. Le Roi du Nord

    Management is responsible for dealing with deadwood, either early or late in a career.  No different from the private sector.

    Just curious as to what type of quality employee you could hire for a high stress job if the compensation package was always in a state of flux? Better grease up the revolving door..

  10. Owen

    Yes, they are, but they don’t. It’s too difficult in a unionized, government, workforce.

    Just curious as to what type of quality employee you could hire for a high stress job if the compensation package was always in a state of flux?

    Gee, I don’t know. If only there were examples in the private sector *cough* high-tech, lawyers, airline pilots, corporate executives, nurses, doctors, paramedics, NFL referee, etc. *cough*

  11. Le Roi du Nord

    Unionized?  Guess Act 10 failed, eh?

    I guess we will agree to disagree.

  12. 9606

    If Leo’s are under such physical stress why are so many so fat?

  13. dad29

    Guess Act 10 failed, eh?

    It must be very difficult to be so ignorant.

  14. TEXAG

    Act 10 merely provided the ABILITY to change things, and tried to incentive it through a very minimal reduction in spending. Unfortunately, the implementation relied on boards and administrators who were largely bought-and-paid-for hacks doing the bidding of the public unions – the corrupt system FDR warned us about – and very few changes were made.  Since then, the economic success resulting from conservative government allowed for restoration of funding – postponing the immediate need for further reforms – and the cycle of public overspending resumes…and here’s an example of same.

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