Tuesday, April 6, 2010

California: A Government To Serve Its Employees

"The state of California's real unfunded pension debt clocks in at more than $500 billion, nearly eight times greater than officially reported," reads a piece in the Los Angeles Times this morning. "That's the finding from a study released Monday by Stanford University's public policy program, confirming a recent report with similar, stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago... How did we get here? The answer is simple: For decades -- and without voter consent -- state leaders have been issuing billions of dollars of debt in the form of unfunded pension and healthcare promises, then gaming accounting rules in order to understate the size of those promises. "

"What can we do about this? For the promises already made, nothing. They are contractual, and because that $500 billion of debt must be paid, retirement costs will rise dramatically no matter what we do. But we can reduce the sizes of promises made to new employees and require full and truthful disclosure so that pension debt can never again be hidden. "

"Last summer Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed exactly that. Since then? Silence. State legislators are afraid even to utter the words 'pension reform' for fear of alienating what has become -- since passage of the Dills Act in 1978, which endowed state public employees with collective bargaining rights on top of their civil service protections -- the single most politically influential constituency in our state: government employees."

You can read the entire opinion piece HERE.

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