With a sharp eye, the state Republican Party has watched for any signs that Gov. Scott Walker's policies are saving money for local school districts.
One way districts are reducing costs, the GOP says, is by switching their employee health insurance from the WEA Trust, the insurance wing of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.
Recently, the GOP issued a press release noting how the Marshfield School District had saved $850,000 by dumping the teacher's union insurance plan.
"School districts around Wisconsin are realizing serious cost savings now that they may search for health insurance providers outside of WEA Trust," wrote GOP staffer Katie McCallum. "The trust is a creation of WEAC that held a monopoly on providing over-priced health insurance to districts, formerly protected by collective bargaining agreements."
The only problem? Marshfield didn't dump the teacher's union insurance. It had actually switched to the WEA Trust plan from Security Health Plan, a private provider.
The gaff didn't escape the staff at WEA Trust, which issued its own statement Tuesday defending the non-profit insurance company from its Republican critics.
"School districts in Kenosha - along with Marshfield, Cedarburg, Marinette and La Crosse - are just some of the dozens of school districts who have chosen to renew or switch to the WEA Trust group health insurance," said Kathryne McGowan, Vice President of Marketing at WEA Trust.
GOP staffer McCallum told Biz Beat the error was an honest mistake but said it doesn't change the fact that eliminating collective bargaining has given school districts more flexibility in their budgeting.
"The fact remains that school districts across the state have realized more than $3 million in savings since they are no longer forced to use the Trust," says McCallum, daughter-in-law of former Gov. Scott McCallum.
McCallum says the changes to state law have pressured WEA Trust to bargain on pricing, which is contributing to the savings for taxpayers.
That might be true, based on comments from the Marshfield school district.
"We discovered WEA came in with a highly competitive bid," Marshfield business director Patrick Saucerman told the Appleton Post Crescent. "There are some changes in the plan structure, but we felt it was the better option."