Scott Walker Tries To Claim Success for Wisconsin’s Healthiest-in-Nation Pension System, Even as His “Reforms” Cost Taxpayers Millions

Jun 25, 2012

States He is “Open” To Changing the Successful System Despite Previous Reassurances to the Contrary

A new study released last week by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States found that Wisconsin’s pension system was the healthiest in the nation in 2010, the most current year for which data is available, and that Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that takes in enough money to keep its promises to retirees and remain solvent.

The Pew Center on the States has previously referred to Wisconsin as a “national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care,” owing to the state’s successful management of assets in excess of $80 billion.

The Pew Center on the States’ study is not the only new pension news for Wisconsinites. Scott Walker’s mandated study of the Wisconsin Retirement System, which will “specifically address establishing a defined contribution plan as an option for WRS participating employees,” is due on June 30th.

Wisconsin’s success compared to the rest of the nation came under Democratic leadership, and prior to Scott Walker’s “reforms” that may actually increase the state’s pension costs by more than $87 million, yet Scott Walker is hypocritically trying to claim victory.  Yesterday addressing the anti-labor Commercial Club of Chicago, Walker touted Wisconsin’s best-in-the-nation status as a symbol of his own success.

Despite the fact that the pension system he inherited is a national model, and despite previous assertions that he would not pursue changes, Scott Walker also stated that he would “be open” to changes in the system – including a change to a more costly and less effective defined contribution plan.

“Scott Walker fear-mongered Wisconsinites into believing that he had to eliminate collective bargaining because of an impending pension crisis, when, in fact, he inherited from Democratic leadership the healthiest pension system in the nation,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. “Instead of preserving fiscal security, Scott Walker’s power-grab actually has the potential to inflict damage on the state’s pension system. At the same time, Walker conveniently gave himself the power to make significant changes to the pension system, up to and including its elimination in favor of a system more costly to employees and taxpayers alike. One has to wonder – was that the goal all along?”