Price of teachers benefits soars 4 billion cost pinches state
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Price of teachers' benefits soars $4-billion cost pinches state. March 26, 2007 BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070326/NEWS06/703260369&imw=Y. Labor Supply of Teachers.

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Price of teachers benefits soars 4 billion cost pinches state

Price of teachers' benefits soars$4-billion cost pinches state

March 26, 2007

BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF

FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070326/NEWS06/703260369&imw=Y


Labor supply of teachers
Labor Supply of Teachers

  • Caryn Jimenez went from hairdresser to Spanish teacher nine years ago. Mentoring young people at Woodhaven High School -- not money -- is what motivates her, she said last week.

  • Still, Jimenez, 40, who has a master's degree in bilingual education, appreciates her excellent health insurance and pension benefits that are typical among Michigan's 200,000 public school employees. Three years ago, Woodhaven-Brownstown schools' 300 teachers agreed to smaller pay increases to keep health insurance that is, by most measures, generous. Jimenez pays no premiums to insure herself, her husband and two children. A doctor visit costs $5, and drug co-pays are $10 for generic, $20 for brand name.

  • "We deserve some good health care. We're raising our future," said Jimenez, whose salary tops $70,000 a year.

  • She speaks for teachers who regard good benefits as proper compensation for the demands of nurturing young minds. But the $4-billion annual cost to taxpayers for school employees' health care and pensions is squeezing the state between political demands to spend more on education and to cut government costs.


Costs of insurance
Costs of Insurance

  • Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, said last week he hopes to unveil legislation this spring to reduce health care costs for school and other public employees. That may include allowing districts to form insurance pools that would include cities or other governments. "The larger the pools, the better the price," Kuipers said.

  • Teachers and other union-represented school employees draw attention because of their sheer numbers. There are more than three times as many school employees as state employees, and teachers' contract benefits typically set the standard for administrators and support staff.

  • The pressure to contain costs is palpable as the state wrestles with a $940-million deficit this fiscal year. One-third of the deficit is in the School Aid Fund and unless the Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm -- who sparred over a Senate-approved school funding cut last week -- agree on a bailout, schools face the loss of $220 for each student by June.


More about costs
More About Costs

  • Pressure also is coming because of growing disparities in health insurance costs between private and public sector employees. Private companies increasingly are forcing workers to pay stiff monthly premiums and higher co-pays for prescriptions, and office and emergency room visits.

  • The same is happening in school districts but not fast enough, say administrators, who cite double-digit increases in health insurance costs over the past decade.

  • "Our employees are entitled to a fair health care package, but the way it's been escalating, it's out of control," said Wayne-Westland Community Schools Superintendent Gregory Baracy.


Salaries and benefits
Salaries and Benefits

  • This illustrates some issues

    • Benefits in 2004 cost MI school districts 42% more than the national average, according to a survey by Standard & Poor's.

    • MI school districts paid an average of $11,300 for health benefits for each employee in 2006, according to a study by the state Senate. Health and retirement benefits eat up about 18% of MI school districts' budgets.

    • Districts this year pay 17.7% of payrolls to a state-run teacher retirement system, including retiree health care -- up from 10.7% in 1998. That share could rise to 25% by 2015, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.


Who pays
Who pays?

  • Consider a labor market with a typically downward sloping demand for labor D,

  • … and a typically upward sloping supply of labor S.

  • The demand for labor is related to the marginal productivity of workers. Employers will hire the workers as long as the value of their output (marginal revenue product) is greater than or equal to the wage that employers must pay them.

S

Wage rate

20

D

1000

Employees


Who pays1
Who pays?

  • The supply of workers is related to the wage in this industry relative to other industries.

  • Workers will choose to work in this industry as long as the wage they can earn exceeds their opportunities in other jobs.

  • The equilibrium wage is $20 and the equilibrium quantity of labor demanded and supplied is 1000.

S

Wage rate

20

Wage Bill

D

1000

Employees


Who pays2
Who pays?

  • Now suppose that workers in the market negotiate a health insurance benefit worth $2/hour at that margin, and costs employers exactly $2/hour to provide.

  • What happens?

  • Employers who before were willing to pay $20per hourfor workers, will now pay $20less $2. Other points on the demand curve will shift downward in a similar manner, so the demand curve will shift downward by exactly $2 to D.

S

Wage rate

20

D

2

D

1000

Employees


Who pays3
Who pays?

  • What will happen to the supply curve?

  • Since the workers were willing to supply various amounts of labor at various wage rates according to the supply curve before, now that they are receiving a benefit worth $2, they will offer their labor for $2 less.

  • Hence, the supply curve will shift downward by exactly $2 to S.

S

S

Wage rate

2

20

D

2

D

1000

Employees


Who pays4
Who pays?

  • New equilibrium is at L1, W2.

  • What is the result? The net wage remains the same, but the money wage falls by $2.

  • The equilibrium wage has fallen to $18 or by exactly the amount of the benefit.

  • Workers have taken their benefits in lower money wages, and the same number of workers, 1000, is employed at the same net wage.

S

S

Wage rate

2

20

Benefits

18

Wages

D

2

D

1000

Employees


So who pays
So … who pays?

  • Fundamentally, the employees pay for insurance, in the form of lower money wages.

  • In Michigan, people like nice benefit packages.

  • It’s not the benefits that are driving up costs, it’s the wages themselves!


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