October 02, 2013
"Disruptive Force" Inslee achieves status quo

Gov. Jay Inslee and state employee unions came to terms on health benefit levels yesterday that will keep employees' share of health coverage costs at 15%. The unions and the governor also agreed broadly to a wellness program, an idea Inslee campaigned on last year as a way to cut health care costs, but details, with union input, will be worked out later. The Olympian has the story:

Negotiators for more than two-dozen public-sector labor unions and Gov. Jay Inslee struck an agreement late Tuesday afternoon that largely maintains the benefits and worker costs of health care in 2015 that already are in effect today. Both parties say details remain to be worked out by labor and management on a wellness plan that is supposed to steer workers toward more healthful activities and lower costs.

For some time, the Seattle Times has championed negotiating with state workers to bring health care contributions more in line with private sector levels, and the Spokesman Review echoed those sentiments on Sunday. Inslee, who was strongly backed by state employee unions in his campaign for governor, clearly had no interest in negotiating a higher employee contribution for health benefits.

The unions seem pleased with the deal. Greg Devereux of the Washington State Federation of State Employees told the Olympian, "Essentially we kept the status quo." Former state representative Brendan Williams, known for being about as far left any legislator during his tenure, wrote in the Labor Council's The Stand that negotiations "ended happily" and added, "Kudos to Gov. Inslee and state workers' unions for achieving a win for both sides as well as the progressive values both share."

But was it a win for taxpayers? State employees' contribution of 15% of their health care costs remains far below the percentage most taxpayers, the people they work for, contribute for their health care. The only concession by the unions appears to be the possibility of higher out-of-pocket prescription costs. The Spokesman Review said Sunday, "It's not fair to expect taxpayers who have endured steady increases in their health costs to continue to finance benefits stuck in a time warp," but that time warp is exactly where Inslee and the unions want to remain.

This isn't too surprising. For all of Inslee's talk during the campaign of wanting to be a "disruptive force" in an "ossified" state government that "needs a whole new culture," Inslee represents even less "disruptive force" than former Gov. Christine Gregoire, who at least tried to negotiate a higher employee contribution. The writing on the wall for last night's announcement appeared last November, when Change Agent Inslee announced that his transition team would include the heads of SEIU, the WEA, the State Council of Fire Fighters, the State Labor Council, and the Federation of State Employees.

Posted by Adam Faber at October 02, 2013 03:59 PM | Email This
Comments
1. For all of Inslee's talk during the campaign of wanting to be a "disruptive force" in an "ossified" state government that "needs a whole new culture," Inslee represents even less "disruptive force" than former Gov. Christine Gregoire, who at least tried to negotiate a higher employee contribution.

Because, naturally, there is nothing more dynamic and innovative than screwing people out of health benefits.

Posted by: demo kid on October 2, 2013 07:31 PM
2. I'm not surprised. Inslee would be about as disruptive to the state employee unions as would a bulldozer made from spaghetti noodles.

Instead of curbing costs, taxes will be raised to continue to fund these state workers' benefit packages that exceed those of the people being asked to pay for it. It's sickening, but the sad fact is I don't see any end to it. Such is life on the Left Coast.

Posted by: Smoley on October 3, 2013 01:12 AM
3. Gov. Ubercreep strikes again!

Posted by: JB on October 3, 2013 03:30 AM
4. It's really sad: instead of "a rising tide which lifts all boats," or the vision of America as "a shining city on a hill," we now have a churlish attempt to sow resentment between state employees and we people they serve. Instead of this "race to the bottom" mentality, why not ask how best to ensure none of us suffer medical bankruptcy, and how best to allocate the excellent health-care resources we have?

Little wonder you guys don't win state-wide elections anymore; who wants to embrace your cramped, hurtful ideas?

Posted by: tensor on October 3, 2013 09:53 AM
5. Democrats will lie and say anything to get elected, and then just go right back to their comfort zone of pandering to victim classes, unions, and government employees. Remember that we were going to see a reduction in our health care costs and keep our doctors. Nope. Hope and Change.

Posted by: Leftover on October 3, 2013 09:56 AM
6. Most people have no idea what is behind this countries current financial and economic woes. A new blog seeks to explain the economic and financial system and the problems in plain terms all can understand.

http://canonicalthoughts.blogspot.com

Posted by: David on October 3, 2013 11:01 AM
7. to post 4 above: if state employees paid 20% instead of 15%, would a whole bunch of them or anyone for that matter go into bankruptcy? How much could the difference help the colleges and schools? The point is Inslee is status quo, whether it is his lean management that is really just rehashed ideas, or budgets or progress on education.

Posted by: commentator on October 3, 2013 12:04 PM
8. "...if state employees paid 20% instead of 15%, would a whole bunch of them or anyone for that matter go into bankruptcy?"

As demo kid noted, telling workers they will have a reduction in take-home pay for reasons they can't control is not a good way to improve their performances. Gov. Inslee is a good enough CEO to understand this.

Again, if you want to win elections in America, show us your vision of a great country, and stop defining great leadership as nickle-and-diming working families. Petty and mean ideas don't win elections around here, in case you haven't noticed.

Posted by: tensor on October 3, 2013 02:03 PM
9. Yes, Democrats do all of the above in the name of "we're the Government and we're here to hep you." They enable welfare by dispensing their handouts to the poor, like crack or other addictive drugs. I have to ask why do you people continue to vote for the drug dealers disguised as many Democrats ?

Keep the tail wagging the dog - status quo.

Posted by: KDS on October 3, 2013 08:04 PM
10. 15 vs 20%: a neighbor of mine works as a graphic designer for the state. She said the other day how much better off she is on the state payroll than in the private sector because of the retirement benefits she is accruing. CEO Inslee ultimately responds to taxpayers and has a lot of constituencies to care about, not just employees. The debt college students are taking on is unconscionable. I think the point of the post is Inlsee had an opportunity to show change and a new direction other than run up the expenses than rely on a big tax increase to cover the shortfall. He did not take that opportunity.

Posted by: commentator on October 5, 2013 09:00 AM
11. Time for another heart-warming story on how well the free market works:

"...better off she is on the state payroll than in the private sector because of the retirement benefits she is accruing."

Sounds like it's time for the private sector to up the game, not demand a race to the bottom.

" I think the point of the post is Inlsee had an opportunity to show change and a new direction..."

I think the point of most of Adam's posts is his inconsolable bitterness at Inslee having won, leaving Adam with little better to do than to write endless little nit-picking complaints.

"15 vs 20%"

Again, if that's your positive, uplifting, inspiring example of brilliant, gutsy leadership, I hope the pain of losing elections is something you enjoy.

Posted by: tensor on October 5, 2013 01:09 PM
12. @12: I think the point of most of Adam's posts is his inconsolable bitterness at Inslee having won, leaving Adam with little better to do than to write endless little nit-picking complaints.

I'm just waiting for his expose on soap dispensers in Capitol bathrooms.

Posted by: demo kid on October 6, 2013 09:06 AM