Act 10: Ensuring that Wisconsin Taxpayers Get What They Pay For

Act 10 is continuing to prove beneficial to Wisconsinites by reining in out of control overtime costs on both the state and local level. Since the enactment of Act 10, Wisconsin state agencies have collectively saved almost $14 million in employee overtime charges. The effects of Act 10 are also being realized at the local level, with the City of Milwaukee reducing its overtime costs by almost 30 percent. Such reductions in spending are allowing for across the board savings and in turn the balancing of state and local budgets.

Act 10, which helped restore common sense to a state personnel system effectively under the control of powerful labor unions, was enacted in 2011 and was met with outrage by many pressure groups on the far left. However, Act 10 has proven to be a boon for Wisconsin taxpayers, who have realized some $2.7 billion in total savings thanks to the law, a number that is continuing to climb.

While Act 10 has garnered attention for its improvements to the Wisconsin educational system, less attention is given to the ongoing fiscal triumphs of reducing overtime expenses under Act 10. Much of the success is due to Act 10 structural reforms that allowed for better management and increased employee efficiency. The structural reforms saved taxpayers more than a billion dollars, including millions of dollars in state employee overtime.

Act 10 policies are allowing state agencies to reduce their overtime costs by millions each year. According to the Department of Administration (DOA), the state experienced a 22 percent reduction across all state agencies in overtime spending following Act 10 changes. The DOA reports that since 2011, state agencies have collectively reduced their overtime costs from $63.1 to $49.4 million.

Specifically, the reported findings on overtime reductions by state agencies indicated after the enactment of Act 10, the Department of Health Services’ overtime costs fell from $8.9 million in 2011 to $7.6 million, a reduction of 15 percent. The Department of Transportation’s overtime costs fell from $5.7 million in 2011 to $4.1 million, a reduction of 28 percent.

The Wisconsin state Department of Corrections (DOC) saw the greatest decline in overtime costs from $37.7 million in 2011 to $29.1 million following the enactment of Act 10. Under Act 10, DOC employees may no longer include compensated days off in the overtime formula, and must collect overtime only on “straight time” earned outside of the 40 hour work week. Additionally, pursuant to union contacts, DOC employees previously were being offered overtime relative to seniority. Now all DOC employees receive a more “equal shot” at overtime compensation.

Furthermore, as an article featured in the Wisconsin Reporter found, under Act 10, state agencies in Wisconsin have begun to fill agency vacancies when possible, as opposed to the norm under the previous administration. As reporter M.D. Kittle points out, they “left vacant positions to save money on staffing budgets, although the agencies ended up spending more in overtime.” Simple, logical changes like this under Act 10 have enabled state agencies to reduce unnecessary costs.

At the local level, the City of Milwaukee has been able to use Act 10 policies to successfully reduce the amount of overtime pay city employees received by almost 30 percent as compared to 2011. The most recent figures indicate that Milwaukee was able to use Act 10 to reduce its Department of Public Works (DPW) overtime expenses from $6.4 million to $2.2 million, a drop of 65 percent in just a few years. The city Police Department also saw a drop in overtime costs of 15 percent from $16.5 million to $14 million.

Additionally, the DPW’s Water Distribution Division saw their average overtime pay “fall from $8,957 per person in 2011 to $2,553 in 2012 – a 72% drop.” The city library even saw drops in employee overtime pay from an average of $225 per year in 2011 to $72 per year. City Budget Director Mark Nicolini stated that “Act 10 largely accounted for the drop in overtime pay for Water Distribution employees…as well as drops for library employees.”

It is clear the provisions of Act 10 have saved Wisconsin taxpayers billions since inception and are continuing to produce results. The policies of Act 10 have empowered officials at the state and local level to take back control of their budgets while working to ensure the most efficient use of taxpayer moneys. As evidenced by continued success in increasing savings at the state and local level, Act 10 is working – the numbers don’t lie.