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Milwaukee County Battles for Domestic-Partner Benefits

Milwaukee County Battles for Domestic-Partner Benefits


Supervisors in Milwaukee County, Wis., are pushing for an ordinance that would extend health insurance benefits to both same- and opposite-sex domestic partners of county employees.

In late 2009 the County Board supported a similar measure that opponents argued would cost the county an additional $4 million a year if the benefits were utilized by 3% of employees. The plan passed 13-6 but was ultimately vetoed by then-County Executive Scott Walker.

New estimates suggest the benefit would only cost taxpayers approximately $742,000 a year, and those in favor of the measure believe it would boost recruitment. "The time has come for Milwaukee County to compete for the best talent with other public and private organizations that offer these benefits," said Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, who supported the measure in 2009.

Domestic-partner benefits are currently available to Milwaukee city and public school employees as well as Wisconsin state workers. Approximately 30 of the city's 3,500 employees -- who received the benefit as part of a 2001 union agreement -- have taken advantage, at a cost of about $252,000 a year, according to Mike Brady, the city's director of employee benefits.

For the measure to pass, at least 10 of the board's 19 supervisors would have to vote in favor. Currently there are nine cosponsors.

Read more here.

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