Last week the Senate passed two pieces of legislation designed to provide much-needed transparency on public union contracts. Both bills were sponsored by CAP members, Senators Folmer and Stefano. S.B. 644 would empower the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to complete and publish cost analyses for collective bargaining agreements involving public employees under the Governor’s jurisdiction. As Sen. Folmer noted in his co-sponsorship memo, fourteen contracts expire at the end of June. The new contracts will cost taxpayers over $3 billion. Knowing the details of these contracts prior to execution is vital if the legislature is going to pass a balanced budget.
The second bill, S.B. 645 is broader in scope and would require that nearly all proposed public employee contracts be posted online two weeks prior to the "employer" signing the contract. For example, under the legislation a school board would be required to post the proposed contract on the school district website before voting on it. As an added bonus, any documents provided to the "employer" by the union during the negotiations would be subject to Right-to-Know requests.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt rightly feared the rise of government unions because taxpayers did not (and do not) truly have a seat at the bargaining table. While this legislation does not completely address the problem, it does give us the opportunity to review contracts we are ultimately responsible for paying.
As the legislation moves in the House, we will keep you informed.