Meanwhile, 2,000 Miles From Wisconsin, Public Sector Pensions Drive 292,000-population City to Brink of Bankruptcy

While Democrats continue wallowing in their own post-Scott Walker hyperbole, cities in Democrat-run states continue being pushed toward insolvency by the same underlying public-sector benefits time bomb that Gov. Walker has been vilified for beginning to address. The freshest example comes from California's 13th-largest city:

The Stockton, California, City Council voted to authorize a bankruptcy filing as soon as June 26 if officials fail to win concessions from creditors that would allow it to avoid becoming the biggest U.S. city to enter court protection.

The council, in a 6 to 1 vote, granted City Manager Bob Deis the authority to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy protection. The farming center, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of San Francisco, is approaching insolvency when its fiscal year begins July 1.

"We have hit the wall," Mayor Ann Johnston said at the council's meeting late yesterday. "There are no quick fixes, there are no silver bullets."

Stockton faces a $26 million deficit in the coming year. Like cities and towns across the U.S., it's been strained by soaring costs for pensions and retiree health benefits while sales and property-tax revenue plummeted after the longest recession since the 1930s. [...]

If the city seeks court protection, it would join Central Falls, Rhode Island, which entered Chapter 9 protection in August after failing to win union concessions, and Jefferson County, Alabama, which became the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in November, with $4.2 billion in debt. Vallejo, California, entered Chapter 9 in 2008, emerging from the process last year.

Ready or not, Democrats are going to have to get serious about governing. As Nick Gillespie wrote yesterday, "the voting public is finally getting the message that we can't keep spending far more than we take in at every level of government and that we can't keep promising more and more expensive benefits for public workers who are already earning more in salary than their private-sector counterparts."

Read more from the Reason archive on Stockton and municipal bankruptcy.

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  • BarryD||

    Wow! That picture makes Stockton appear as if it were a place someone might not object to going!

    There you go with more deceptive images, Reason!

  • ChrisO||

    What little I've seen of Stockton looks like the San Fernando Valley crossed with Mordor.

  • ||

    Funny thing about Stockton is that it has/had a deep-water port via the SF bay. As lad it was always amazing to see these big cargo ships in the middle of nowhere Central Valley - at a distance it looked like they were sailing across the fields. Don't know if that still happens. What I found more amazing was the Stockton had way more bars than even my home town of East Oakland.

  • BarryD||

    It had a deep water port, now it's just deep underwater?

  • Legate Damar||

    Ready or not, Democrats are going to have to get serious about governing.

    Oh, Matt, has 75 years in this business not taught you anything? The vote was 6-1. The obstructionist on the city council is clearly the one who's preventing Stockton from becoming the utopia that it was originally destined to become, and until he or she is removed, the other members of the council will be powerless - POWERLESS - to improve the situation.

    Full disclosure: I grew up ~25 minutes south of Stockton and, in my youth, spent one summer working for the tomato processing plant in east Stockton and another summer delivering phone books throughout Stockton. My recommendation is not to live in Stockton. Or visit Stockton. Or even make direct eye contact with Stockton.

  • ||

    Oh, Matt, has 75 years in this business not taught you anything?

    Wow, Matt looks really good for his age.

  • califernian||

    "There are no quick fixes, there are no silver bullets"

    Yes there are.

  • Aresen||

    Plain old ordinary lead bullets are fine with me.

  • BarryD||

    They have some of those in Stockton, I think.

  • ||

    We get the government we deserve.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Straight outta Stockton, crazy muthafucka named Matt Welch.

  • Aresen||

    Sugarfreed.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Damn that diabetic devil! Why can't you leave me alone!

  • Pi Guy||

    I know I'm late but RIP Eazy-E

  • Ken Shultz||

    While Democrats continue wallowing in their own post-Scott Walker hyperbole, cities in Democrat-run states continue being pushed toward insolvency by the same underlying public-sector benefits time bomb that Gov. Walker has been vilified for beginning to address.

    Indeed, until we see in Sacramento and elsewhere in California, the same kind of union demonstrations we saw in Wisconsin, where the unions denounce our politicians as trying to end democracy and destroy the middle class, we'll know that the real cause of our problems is still not being adequately addressed.

    P.S. Congratulations to the people of San Diego and San Jose.

  • ||

    "All is well! All is well!!!"

  • Tim||

    George Bush left them with such a mess...

  • Virginian||

    You're joking, but my Californian cousins are really that stupid. They blamed Reagan for the power outages in the early 2000s. Governor Reagan, I mean. Apparently he was so diabolical he could engineer an energy crisis with a three decade delay just to foil the good Gray Davis from implementing utopia.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's almost as dumb as the idiots that still blame prop 13 for all the state problems.

    It's only been the law for thirty five years now.

  • Spiny Norman||

    And the government-run energy marketplace that passed for privatization.

  • RPR2||

    tax the Barkleys

  • califernian||

    Also it's still GOVERNOR reagan's fault we have a homeless problem. Apparently.

  • BarryD||

    Yeah, it has nothing at all to do with the climate, or the population. Sparsely populated places where Winter temperatures can kill someone in less than an hour would have a terrible problem with homeless people everywhere, if they'd had a Governor Reagan 40 years ago.

  • GILMORE||

    ...public workers who are already earning more in salary than their private-sector counterparts.

    [Unshaven Labor Journalist in Flannel Shirt]= "No they're not!! And who the @#*()$ are you to talk, Welch, your boss is a freaking billionaire!! Yeah, we know what side your bread is buttered on. What we need is to do is *go after* the billionaires...!""

    That guy the other day was basically Michael Moore after a year at a fat farm. Make that 2 years. And that's really unfair, actually. The guy was far more articulate than Michael Moore.

  • Keith3D||

    even Gray Davis, the guy who passed out the pension windfall as a reward for getting him elected, is calling for it to be reformed.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....IY20100816

    "Ex-governor says California must reform pensions"

    "The evidence seemed to suggest the state was wealthy enough to afford it," he said. "It was part ideology and part math and the point is the math was wrong big time."

    It's the math's fault!

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