Monday, January 16, 2017

Why taxpayers are getting a bargain from public-sector workers [feedly]

Why taxpayers are getting a bargain from public-sector workers

 -- via my feedly newsfeed

The American Enterprise Institute's Andrew Biggs reacted to my critique of his Yankee Institute study on public-sector pay in Connecticut with a lengthy response (see also my related blog post). I take this as a good sign: Maybe facts do matter, even in the Trump era.

Before delving into methodological issues, however, I'll answer one pointed question Biggs had: No, my critique of his research wasn't commissioned by labor unions, though EPI does receive about a quarter of its funding (27 percent, to be precise) from unions, who helped found EPI and are represented on our board. Most of the rest of our funding comes from foundations.

As it happens, Biggs's study was brought to my attention by an advocacy group, Connecticut Voices for Children, that receives most of its funding from community foundations and almost none from unions. Connecticut Voices asked for my help in understanding Biggs's methodology. Since this ended up taking longer than expected, I decided to write a report for which EPI didn't receive any dedicated funding. I did share a late draft with an expert in public-sector compensation at the National Education Association in Washington, who had no influence on my analysis. I actually think my job would have been easier and the report better if I'd consulted with union representatives in Connecticut, though I understand why Biggs might not agree.

Now that I've come clean, I'd be curious to know who commissioned Biggs's report and who he received feedback from—AEI board member and Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, by any chance?

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