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LA School Insurance Blowout: Taxpayers Pay $416 Million, Employees Pay Zero

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Union-funded hacks like those at the Economic Policy Institute tell us public employees have it rough. Their pay is so low they resort to eating dog food at night. Their pensions are terrible and no one – and we mean no one – should be subjected to such poor health care coverage.

It baffles the mind, then, to look at the honest numbers. Because when one does, it shows that the people at EPI are little more than union shills spewing cooked up numbers to satisfy the paymaster.

In the latest in a series of reports issued by focused on labor spending in metropolitan school districts across the country, it’s revealed that members of United Teachers Los Angeles (the local teachers union) didn’t pay one thin dime toward health insurance premiums in 2010-11. That cost fell to taxpayers, who parted with a whopping $416 million.

How could this be? The school district’s budget deficit entering the 2010-11 fiscal year was $640 million. Employees were laid off by the thousands and five instructional days were cancelled, yet union employees were allowed to maintain their free and very costly health coverage.

This is different than most school districts around the nation, which have been forcing employees to pay upwards of 30 percent of their insurance premiums.

And the problem in Los Angeles persists. According to media reports, teachers are still not required to contribute toward health insurance premiums.

Instead of emulating private sector trends and cutting labor costs when necessary, the
government class in Los Angeles remains in its own little world of free health care, free retirement and automatic raises.

Just imagine if members of the UTLA were required to pay 20 percent toward insurance, which would still be well below the national private sector average. Schools could reap the savings and put them toward their mission: educating children.

That would equal $83.2 million that could go toward recalling laid off teachers and restoring instructional days to the school calendar. According to media reports, the Los Angeles district has eliminated 18 days of instruction over the past four years due to budget constraints.

Instead, unions and their apologists insist that schools are desperate for cash and taxes must be raised. Until public schools get serious and adopt practices common in the private sector, we can’t expect anything to change – except a continued increase in the cost of education.

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