Binding Arbitration: Less Democracy, More Spending

To the average Joe, “binding arbitration” may sound like wonk-speak for something that won’t have an impact in the real world.

But it will. Big time.

At stake is who gets to decide how $1.86 billion public funds are spent – and whether that figure stays at $1.86 billion or gets even bigger.

The basic idea behind “binding arbitration” is this: if contract negotiations between school boards and teachers break down, an arbitrator will be brought in to settle the dispute. The key word here is “binding.” Since most municipal spending is on employee salaries and benefits, this would effectively cut elected officials out of the process and put major budget decisions in the hands of unelected, third-party arbitrators.

So we here at the Ocean State Policy Research Institute wondered how much money is involved. We did some digging around and found that an average of 58.5 percent of municipal budgets goes toward the salaries and benefits for teachers, firemen, and police officers. Multiply that by the total of municipal budgets and you get $1.86 billion.

This issue was supposed to come up for a vote during the special two-day legislative session that started today, but now it has been supposedly tabled. Apparently, some leftist ideas are even too much for our Democratic Legislature.

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