One Wisconsin Now Blog

We do take issue with the facts of WPRI study, Lightbourn

So “Wisconsin’s Free Market Think Tank” released yet another report reinforcing the pro-corporate agenda of conservatives. Big surprise.
In its latest report, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) wants the public to be outraged at the government for offering pensions that are too “rich” compared to the private sector. OWN and other progressive leaders have called horseapples on this notion and the pro-corporate interests behind WPRI. WPRI head George Lightbourn shrugged off the criticism, saying “We have seen nobody… take issue with the facts that were presented in the study.”

We disagree.

We disagree that an accurate assessment can be made based on the single sliver of a mythical 25-year public employee making $48,000 a year.

We also disagree that there is no statistical consideration made for the difference in salary growth in the private sector versus the public sector in the past 15 years.

We also disagree that you can fairly measure between a select group of employees with a finite salary range in the public sector and the infinite range of salaries in the private sector, which also include bonuses, stock options, company cars, liberal per diem and travel compensation.

Lightbourn -- from the administrations of former Govs. Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum (Rs) -- admits in the report’s introduction that “As a former public employee, I was included in the Wisconsin Retirement System. I always knew Wisconsin’s pension system was generous. Now I know just how generous that pension system is… It is a system that has simply overstayed its welcome.”

Everyone with me now: GIVE IT BACK, GIVE IT BACK, GIVE IT BACK!
 
But seriously folks… I wonder if this was running through Lightbourn’s mind when, as a trusted on the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, he voted to approve “a complicated plan… to buy $8.3 million in bonds from Heartland Holdings, which subsequently lost millions of dollars for investors." Or I wonder what how concerned for us taxpayers when “Shortly before he lost his cabinet job, then-Administration Secretary George Lightbourn authorized a nearly $6,500 pay raise for an administrative position in his agency – a post that became his next job in state government.” He later apologized and returned the raise he gave himself.

Now that Lightbourn has left public service (he was a state worker for over two decades) and is leading the best-funded anti-government think tank in the state, he's throwing stones. Other current WPRI board members who sat on the Wisconsin Retirement System board during the former Republican administration include James Klauser and Maureen Oster. (You can find the other WPRI board members heading up WMC, MMAC, or their own investment firms.)

Like AFSCME Council 24 head Marty Beil said, "But now they’ve got theirs, they don't want anybody to get anything else."

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DATA OR OPINION


When someone presents a statistical analysis, it cannot be refuted by opinion. It can be shown as false by presenting the data that contradicts the analysis' assumptions.

"We also disagree that you can fairly measure between a select group of employees with a finite salary range in the public sector and the infinite range of salaries in the private sector, which also include bonuses, stock options, company cars, liberal per diem and travel compensation." That's a nice statement, but it lacks teeth. Look at the data available through the state and local/county outlets, business councils, etc. Publicly funded jobs are higher paid, on AVERAGE than private sector jobs. Benefits packages are far more robust as well.

I will never defend a public servant voting himself a pay raise that's beyond the standard inflationary/cost of living increases for that year. I will also not defend waste, abuse, and ridiculously large benefit and retirement packages that will bankrupt our state.... Can anyone say GM? State employees get over 40 paid days off the FIRST YEAR OF EMPLOYMENT! Try that as a private employer. Need to hire a foruth employee to cover all the time off of the first three. Why can state employees get their student loans paid off after a certain term of employment. Now taxpayers pay that at both ends, paying the employee and paying off the loan. Private jobs with that much time with a company don't desrve the same treatment?

Facts are facts, opinion is just that. And nearly any study can be rebuked if more data is injected, just like political polls are "massaged" by the way questions are written. So to "fairly measure" betwen private and public sector jobs, use all the facts at your disposal or make sure your opinion is advertised as opinion.

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