2011 Wisconsin Act 10: Nine Years Later and Still Successful

Feb 12, 2020 | Press Release

Madison, Wis. — The Institute for Reforming Government (IRG) issued its sixth policy paper today recognizing the success of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 (Act 10) nine years after it was introduced. The legislation to rein in collective bargaining and enable state and local governments to realize real taxpayer savings was passed by a reform-minded legislature and signed by Governor Walker. Nine years later and the policies contained in Act 10 remain an important reform today.

“Through Act 10, Governor Walker and a reform-minded legislature changed Wisconsin’s budget outlook, opened the door for a budget surplus, and saved taxpayers billions,” said Rob McDonald, Chairman of the Board for the Institute for Reforming Government. “The impact of Act 10 continues to produce positive results for Wisconsin, and other states that need to address a fiscal crisis should look no further than Wisconsin’s Act 10.”

Highlights from the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 policy paper are below:

Nine years ago, the legislation became 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 …and it was eventually upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2014.  Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Governor Walker “called the ruling a victory” and stated “Act 10 has saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $3 billion.” Since Wisconsin passed 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, other states have considered similar legislation.

Health Insurance Contributions:

Act 10 contained changes to health insurance premiums for both state employees and municipal employees. For example, for state employees, Act 10 “requires that the employer generally pay an amount not more than 88% of the average premium cost of plans offered in the tier with the lowest employee premium cost, except as otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement…” For municipal employees, “Act 10 provides that, beginning on January 1, 2012, except as otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement, an employer may not offer a health care coverage plan to its employees under this provision if the employer pays more than 88% of the average premium cost of plans offered in any tier with the lowest employee premium cost.”

Retirement Contributions:

The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) was brought into national conversations during discussions on 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 and Wisconsin’s pension system is something that should continue to receive national attention.

As noted within ETF’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,

“Prior to approximately July 1, 2011, most employee contributions were paid by the employer on behalf of the employee. 2011 Act 10 restricted the employer from paying the employee required contribution, unless provided for by an existing collective bargaining agreement.”

In November of 2019, ETF highlighted a PEW Charitable Trust article that notes,

“…Wisconsin and Tennessee are two of the best-funded plans in the country…” Wisconsin’s pension fund remains important to recognize given its importance to not only the “more than 632,802 current and former state and local government employees and their families rely on the WRS for some of their retirement security,” as noted by ETF, but also due to the system’s status as one of the “best-funded plans in the country” and sheer size compared to other pension funds. As noted by ETF,

“With approximately $108.8 billion in assets, the WRS is the 8th largest U.S. public pension fund and the 25th largest public or private pension fund in the world. There are 632,802 individuals who participate in the WRS.”

Read IRG’s 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 Paper here.

IRG has also issued policy papers on Medicaid reformregulatory reform, a policy proposal for state-based tax reform, manufacturing policy, workforce development, and property tax policy based on successful policies not only in Wisconsin but across the country.

The Institute for Reforming Government is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that seeks to simplify government at every level by offering policy solutions to thought leaders in American government in the areas of tax reform, government inefficiency, and burdensome regulations.

Learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government here.