Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Benefits, End or Extend?

Great news!! Racine evidently has resolved all its fiscal challenges such that we can now contemplate adding domestic partnership benefits for city employees.

Racine has in recent years seen a 50% drop in property values without a commensurate reduction in property values or property taxes. The population has been in a fairly steady decline for a few decades, leaving fewer to bear the tax burden. Is this really the time to consider adding a huge new entitlement to partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates etc....of city employees? Obviously not.

But what about basic fairness? Should the city discriminate against unmarried couples and in favor of married ones? Is marriage an institution that we should favor over other relationships?

It seems to me the city has two separate questions to address. First the alderman must determine whether marriage is an institution that should be treated favorably relative to other relationships. And If their answer is no, it should not be assumed that the proper course of action is to add benefits for unmarried partners. Another option would be to eliminate benefits for anyone other than the employee.

I am sure the latter option would bring out some unlikely defenders of marriage. Might be fun to watch.


GearHead said...

The aldermen haven't figured out yet that we are broke. So it is no suprise they will play the "it's only fair" card. Besides, they will argue we need this to remain competitive with how other cities renumerate their employees. It's the old teacher union argument, and a silly one at that.

BradK said...

So long as the debate centers around 'who is covered' instead of the question 'why does coverage cost so much', true meaningful health care reform will never occur. I always go back to the single dose of acetaminophen, Walgreens generic brand costs pennies, but if you get the exact same dose in a hospital, it can run into the hundreds of dollars (speaking from very recent experience). If the costs were under control, then public-funded benefits coverage (or private for that matter) would be a reasonable conversation. That's where IMHO Obamacare failed the greatest... it prided itself on extending coverage to xxx more Americans, yet left the true problem back in the corner.

Denis Navratil said...

Silly argument indeed GH as it would not be too difficult to fill vacancies in city government. That competition with other cities never seems to be over lowered tax rates to make private investment more attractive.

And BradK, the issue before the city is 'who is covered' as the overall cost of health care question is out of their control.

Denis Navratil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One more reason why the 'state' should get out of the marriage business, and simply leave it up to a civil contract.
THAT would be the fair way.

Denis Navratil said...

Perhaps so anon, but in this case, it is the state (as in city government) that is compensating some employees more because they are married, more still if they have children. Are you suggesting that the city should end compensation for anyone other than the employee, as I have hinted at, or that they should extend the benefits to other types of relationships, in this case registered partners? If we are going to extend benefits to other relationships, why stop at domestic partnerships? Are other relationships deemed less worthy somehow? Why?

Anonymous said...

Employee only.
It should not be the business of the taxpayer to support how an employee organizes their homelife.