Candidate for governor says public employee benefit contribution - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Candidate for governor says public employee benefit contributions should be "back on the table"

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The latest Democratic candidate to announce a run for Governor won't rule out anything when it comes to restoring collective bargaining rights for public sector workers - even going back to having the state cover all costs for employee benefits.    

Andy Gronik is running on a platform that includes restoring those rights that were taken away in Governor Walker's 2011 budget repair bill.

27 News asked Gronik if that means he would also seek to make sure those employees would no longer be asked to contribute to their health insurance or pension benefits.

"I think you have to take the whole benefits package and put it back on the table," said Gronik.

Prior to Act 10, the State of Wisconsin covered all pension contributions for public sector employees. The workers picked up 6 percent of their health insurance premiums.

In an interview for this weekend's Capital City Sunday, Gronik didn't rule out changes to that cost-sharing model.

"I think that in my business - I'll use my business as an example - making sure that my employees had access to health care was critical to me," said Gronik. "Making sure that we had the kind of benefits that supported families was critical to me. All I'm saying is - let's put it all on the table."

It's a stance that drew a sharp rebuke from the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

"It's easy for an out-of-touch con artist like Andy Gronik to spout off in an interview, but the fact remains that hard-working Wisconsin taxpayers and families have already seen $5 billion in savings as a result of the reforms in Act 10," wrote RPW Spokesperson Alec Zimmerman. "Andy Gronik would not only take that away, but go even further than the big government special interests who controlled Wisconsin before Governor Walker put taxpayers in charge. If Andy Gronik is going to be a serious candidate for governor, he must immediately share his plan for how he'll pay for these extreme ideas."

Due to Act 10, public sector employees in Wisconsin are required to put 12 percent of their salary towards health insurance premiums and 6 percent towards their state pension plan.

However, some school districts who have used Act 10 tools to find cheaper health insurance are not requiring their employees to contribute the full 12 percent.

Gov. Walker is attempting to force those districts to collect the full 12 percent as part of the 2017-19 budget.

2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke ran on a platform that included restoring collective bargaining rights, but keeping those employee benefit contributions in place.

Andy Gronik's full interview will be shown on Capital City Sunday this weekend at 9:00 a.m. on WKOW 27.

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