Secret Contracts Push State Worker Costs Upward

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: Gina Diorio, 862-703-6670, [email protected]

Secret Contracts Push State Worker Costs Near $100K Each
Benefit Costs Tripled Since 2000

February 22, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—As Gov. Wolf calls for a record-high $80 billion in state spending, Pennsylvania is paying nearly $100,000 per state worker in salary and benefits. The latest workforce statistics from the Office of Administration show average per-worker compensation rose from $85,022 in 2012-13 to $92,753 in 2013-14. This includes a $5,000-per-employee increase in benefits in just one year.

Since 2000, benefits costs per state employee have more than tripled, from $12,732 to nearly $39,000.

Negotiations for public sector employee benefits are happening behind closed doors, so taxpayers are kept in the dark until they are handed the bill.
"Benefits costs for government workers are skyrocketing while Gov. Wolf calls for massive tax hikes on working families," commented Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "We’re asking private sector workers to shoulder rapidly growing costs of public sector benefits that far outpace their own. At the same time, taxpayers are being kept in the dark about salary and benefit negotiations they’ll be paying for."

Benefits costs now equal 42 percent of the average state employee’s total compensation. By contrast, benefits in the private sector represent about 31 percent of total compensation. Further, total compensation for Pennsylvania state workers is an astonishing 35 percent higher than for comparable private-sector workers.

While public employee compensation has been steadily increasing, with few exceptions, since 2000, the past three years have seen a steep spike, propelled primarily by rising benefits costs.

Amid these rising costs, Gov. Wolf proposed a state budget with record-high spending that would cost Pennsylvanians nearly $14,000 per worker.
Contract transparency legislation currently before the House, SB 645 sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano, would require that state and local governments make union contracts available to the public before finalization. Another bill, SB 644 sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer, would empower the Independent Fiscal Office to provide the public with cost estimates on state union contracts prior to ratification.

"Commonsense transparency and accountability measures aren’t just a good idea—they’re a necessity to lessen the load on taxpayers," Brouillette continued. "Lawmakers must end the practice of closed-door public union deals that defy any claims of government transparency."

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