The MacIver Institute gathered comments from local government executives on the solid benefits of Act 10. The Wisconsin law, passed in 2011, tightened the rein on public employee unionism.
Local officials joined Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday to describe how Act 10 has benefited their communities in the five years since the landmark law’s enactment in 2011.
Brown County executive Troy Streckenbach, Green Bay mayor James Schmitt, and Hobart village president Rich Heidel spoke along with Gov. Walker at the Green Bay City Hall.
Heidel, who has been in his role for 13 years, said Act 10 is “a breath of fresh air” that gives local officials like him the tools and flexibility to manage their municipalities that were lacking prior to Act 10’s enactment.
Streckenbach said the county faced a $3.6 million structural deficit in addition to a $1.5 million cost to continue in 2011 – a tremendous hurdle that would’ve required steep cuts to services or major tax hikes. But Act 10 was instrumental in allowing Brown County to overcome its financial challenges while improving services and cutting taxes, he said.
Schmitt said Act 10 has taken the focus of managing the city’s 1,000 employees away from union contracts – a piece of paper, as he described it. This had made the city a better place to work, improving the relationships he has with the city’s workers.
“It’s fair. It’s fair to the taxpayer, fair to the employees, and very fair to the city,” Schmitt said, adding that the benefits of passing Act 10 far outweigh the controversy that took place when it was enacted.
Walker focused on the savings to taxpayers. “Our estimate just on pension savings for local governments right here in Brown County is about $118 million,” Walker said. The average taxpayer in Brown County has also seen a property tax reduction of about $138, similar to statewide figures, he said.
“That’s a big deal. Who would’ve thought five years ago that property taxes would be lower on the median value home in this state than they were when we started in December 2010?” he said.