Friday, August 31, 2012

Sacramento Steps Up on Pension Reform

The California state legislature has taken some much needed steps to reform pension abuse.

Among the reforms passed by the Senate and the Assembly:

1. Increase the retirement age for new employees.

2. Cap the annual payout at $132,120.

3. Eliminate numerous abuses of the system -- pension spiking has already been identified.

4. Require workers who are not contributing half of their retirement costs to pay more.

The "Yahoo" report neglected to mention that public officials who commit public integrity crime will be barred from receiving a pension. This is a moral, though hardly a fiscal victory for the state. The fiscal mismanagement in the Coliseum comes to mind. Yet no one has stood up to the Teachers Union in the state, and to this day nothing has advanced the expedited dismissal of predatory teachers or their the denial of pension receipt for those who engage in moral turpitude with a minor.

Brown was not pleased that the following reforms, which he requested in his 12-point plan, would not be implemented:

1. No hybrid public-private (401(k)) pension plan.

2. No reforms to control  retiree health care costs.

3. No reforms for board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

I would add to the list of missed opportunities forcing current workers to contribute more toward their pensions. Rhode Island required current workers to contribute more toward their pension pay. Permitting retirees to take home 90% of their salary is inexcusable.

Prop 32 will have to finish the job that the state legislature has begun. The public sector unions in this state have an automatic purse from their own employees, who have to contribute union dues every year, whether they support the union or not, and their monies fund candidates and causes of the union leadership's choosing, whether the employees support the same or not. This abuse of the individual's paycheck must end, and Prop 32 will make that happen.

About the pension reform deal which just passed through the Sacramento legislature, State Senate President Darrell Steinberg commented:

"As this debate has gone on, I, for one, am tired of public employees being the sole and, I think, unfair focus of the state's problems," Steinberg told his colleagues on the Senate floor. "People who enter the public service are public servants, and you have great public employees, mediocre, and the rest, just like you have in the private sector."

His critique forgets one fundamental factor: public sector employees are paid by public taxpayers, yet the public sector unions do not negotiate with the taxpayers for pay raises. Instead, the promote politicians who will provide higher salaries, benefits, and pensions, while those who are paying for these lavish payouts have no say in the accounts, the accountability, or the final count on how the money is allocated.

This entitlement is robbing the California taxpayer blind and beggarly. This arrangement has gone on for far too long.

Mimi Walters of Lake Forest correctly pointed out that this pension "change" does not enact the deep and painful reforms needed to even out the current pension liability, a massive future burden which threatens the largest state in the union with the largest bankruptcy on record. Three cities have already filed for bankruptcy protection -- will Sacramento have to do the same?

No comments:

Post a Comment