Monday, October 31, 2011

Let’s stipulate that public employee pension costs are not the fundamental cause of California’s financial problems. We can even accept the argument from the union-backed Californians for Retirement Security that “the average public pension in California is $26,000-a-year,” that “three-quarters of CalPERS retirees collect $36,000 or less” and that “public pensions equal just 3% percent of California’s budget.”

But public employee unions and their Democratic sock puppets in the Legislature are kidding themselves if they think they don’t have a political problem anyway. Whatever portion of California’s fiscal failings is a function of public employee pensions – and no one is arguing that it’s zero percent – labor leaders and their cronies need to convince the vast voting public that they are part of the solution, not the source of the problem.

Which is why, as a political matter – and clearly, Calbuzz is far, far better equipped to discuss the politics than the policy — the unions and their legislative allies are nuts to take a hard line against Gov. Jerry Brown’s opening gambit on pension reform.

You want policy analysis? Read our pal Dan Borenstein in the Contra Costa Times who says, “Brown’s new pension reform plan signals he’s serious about restoring fiscal sanity to public employee retirement systems, but it lacks critical details and doesn’t stop the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars of debt to our children.”

You want details, read this nifty outline by Jon Ortiz of the SacBeeMinus. Or read Anthony York and Michael Mishak in the ByGodLATimes for a compendium of reactions.

But if you want to see an ostrich response, check out this from Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security:

“We are disappointed that the governor is proposing pension changes that will undermine retirement security for public employees. It is unfortunate that he has proposed to increase the retirement age, shift greater costs to workers and impose a hybrid plan on new employees, when public employees already have agreed to hundreds of millions of dollars in pension concessions at the state and local level.”

Impactful profundity: No it’s not “unfortunate” that Brown has proposed these changes. In fact, Big Labor ought to be damn glad the governor is seeking to maintain and not gut public employee pensions. What they don’t seem to get is what Steve Harmon and John Woolfolk of the San Jose MurkyNews picked up on when Brown unveiled his proposals.

To read entire story, click here.