Dan Walters

Published: Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Whenever someone suggests that California’s public employee pension systems need reform, civil service unions react dismissively, often with attacks on the credentials or even the morals of critics.

When, for example, a Public Policy Institute of California poll found strong support – even among public workers themselves – for Gov. Jerry Brown’s middle-of-the-road pension reform plan, the union-backed Californians for Retirement Security reacted thusly:

“These poll results are not surprising. They amount to more fallout from a sustained and unrelenting misinformation campaign being fed to Californians,” and continued: “Millions of public servants in California are doing their jobs and planning their futures with the promise of retirement security made to them. Even they are being peppered, however, with misleading and disproportionate examples of the tiny fraction of six-figure pensions and isolated cases of abuse. Pensions equal less than 3 percent of this state’s beleaguered budget, while California corporations swim in profits and are dodging contributing tens of billions to state coffers through a slew of tax breaks.”

A day after that poll was published, a research team based at Stanford University and headed by former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation released an updated analysis of state and local pension funds, concluding that they are hundreds of billions of dollars underfunded, and unless reformed, will seriously erode future financing of schools, health care and other services.

The reaction from Californians for Retirement Security was even more scathing, to wit:

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