Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that significantly reduces the collective bargaining powers of about 175,000 public employees who are union represented and work at the state, county and municipal levels. The law does not affect union-represented police and firefighters or the State Patrol.

Pension contributions: State, school district and municipal employees who pay into the Wisconsin Retirement System would be required to contribute 50% of the annual pension payment. The payment amount is estimated to be 5.8% of salary in 2011.

Health insurance contributions: State employees would be required to pay at least 12.6% of the average cost of annual health insurance premiums. The bill would require changes to the plan design to reduce current premiums by 5%. Local employers participating in the Public Employers Group Health insurance plan would be prohibited from paying more than 88% of the lowest cost plan.

Pension changes for elected officials and appointees: Pension calculation for elected officials and appointees would be the same as for state employees and teachers. Under the state constitution, the change would be effective for elected officials at the beginning of their next term of office.

General fund impact: The estimated $37 million in savings from implementing these provisions for state employees in the current fiscal year would be transferred to the general fund.

Collective bargaining: The bill would make various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on inflation unless approved by referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts. Law enforcement, fire employees and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes.

Quality Health Care Authority: The bill repeals the authority of home health care workers under the Medicaid program to collectively bargain.

Child care labor relations: The bill repeals the authority of family child care workers to collectively bargain with the state.

University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Board and Authority: The bill repeals collective bargaining for UWHC employees. State positions currently employed by the UWHC Board are eliminated and the incumbents are transferred to the UWHC Authority.

University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff: The bill repeals the authority of UW faculty and academic staff to collectively bargain.

Authorize Department of Health Services to restructure program: The bill authorizes the Department of Health Services to make program changes notwithstanding limits in state law related to specific program provisions. The department is expected to develop new approaches on program benefits, eligibility determination and provider cost-effectiveness. The proposed changes would require approval through the Legislature’s rule process before implementation. A previous version of the bill required only the approval of the Joint Finance Committee. The provision would end Jan. 1, 2015.

Aging and Disability Resource Centers: The bill transfers an estimated $3 million in savings to Medicaid.

What’s not in the new law?

Sale of state power plants: A provision that authorizes the Department of Administration to sell state power plants in a no-bid process was taken out of the bill.

Fiscal provisions: Any other provisions that had a fiscal impact were taken out of the bill, including $165 million in debt restructuring.

Contributing: Source: Post-Crescent analysis of Legislative Fiscal Bureau documents