Knecht: Free local government from mandatory arbitration |

Knecht: Free local government from mandatory arbitration

Controller Ron Knecht says local governments should be freed from mandatory binding arbitration with employee unions.

He said the law requiring local governments to engage in collective bargaining with public employee unions “significantly raises costs to taxpayers and makes these governments operate inefficiently and in non-transparent ways.”

The proposed legislation wouldn’t eliminate collective bargaining at the local level but would allow all local governments the option of refusing to negotiate with those unions.

He said he and Geoffrey Lawrence presented the idea to GOP legislators in 2015 but it went nowhere.

He said his plan “corrects a mistake made nearly half a century ago when the Legislature tied the hands of local governments and unfairly burdened their taxpayers.”

Another of Knecht’s bill draft requests would convert the Public Employee Retirement System from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution/defined benefit hybrid. He said it would give public employees the option to convert their retirement accounts but they wouldn’t be required to join the plan.

He said the proposal would help reduce the plan’s unfunded liability.

That’s a proposal that was debated during the 2015 Legislature but failed to move forward.

He has also proposed a plan that would clean up a growing amount of payroll checks owed to employees who have left state service. His deputy James Smack said those checks range from a few cents to more than $10,000 but have not been claimed by the former employees. The plan would take all of those checks from $10 or more and move them to the unclaimed property account instead of leaving them in the former employee’s file.

Smack said the total in those accounts now is $523,000.