Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Numbers game

A candidate for Howard County Board of Education, Robert Ballinger, has an interesting letter to the editor on this week's Explore Howard. Here's a snipet:

Once again I can not understand where the Board of Education priorities are and I wish that the Board of Education would have voted against the Howard County Board of Education FY 2011 budget.

The package included a reduction in the Board of Education's contribution to medical benefits from 90 to 87 percent for its current employees. The Board will contribute 85 percent for employees hired after June 30, 2011. These changes were necessary to offset the impact of escalating health care costs on the school system's budget stated Howard County

He goes on to agree with Allen Dyer- which is frightening enough in itself- who derides these changes (which Ballinger himself just described as "necessary") as "regressive 30 percent to 50 percent permanent increases in the employee's portion of the health care cost."

Reducing the B of E's contribution to medical benefits from 90% to 87% seems like a very reasonable measure in the face of the greatest recession in decades, and still provides an extremely generous employee benefit. Since employees currently only pay 10% of their medical expenses themselves, a 3% increase is 30% more than what they pay now. However, it is extraordinarily misleading to frame the change as 30% increase, as Ballinger has done. If anything, tell us how much this would cost the average employee. That would at least be a meaningful number.

Furthermore, since this change is so unsettling to Ballinger, I'd be curious to hear what he proposes instead.

No one who plays numbers games like this should be taken seriously as a candidate. If Ballinger believes that a necessary and insignificant measure like this is completely unpalatable, it frightens me to think what he might do and say if he were to actually get elected to anything.


DIY Investor said...

I totally agree. Misusing statistics in this way is a sign to voters to back away!
Unfortunately we are in a situation where promises have been made that can't be kept. Responsible politicians will recognize this and act accordingly even if it costs some votes.

Eludius said...

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I wish my employer covered that much of my health insurance. Reminds me of when a family member was complaining that Safeway was increasing his required contribution to his health insurance to $25 per week. I reminded him that I pay nearly $200 per week.

Anonymous said...

Implement vouchers and see how fast they are happy with the lower percentage coverage.