To deal with the state’s looming retirement crisis, Gov. Tony Evers and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski think we need a new program called "WisconsinSaves.”
But we have an impending crisis only for people who work in the private sector. Public employees already have the Wisconsin Retirement System managed by the state government. Rather than creating “WisconsinSaves,” we could give private sector workers the chance to join our state retirement system. An individual could pay an initial start-up fee and then decide how much he or she wants to contribute. The larger the contributions, the larger the future monthly pension checks.
This need not be done through employers or certified financial planners. It could be set up so any individual with a credit card could join by filling out a simple form on the WRS website.
For too long, public employees have been maligned as a labor aristocracy, able to enjoy higher pay and better benefits than their private sector counterparts. These charges are largely false, but Wisconsin’s public employees do have a pretty good retirement plan. Maybe the time has come to let private sector workers climb into it.