California

Is Jerry Brown Serious About Pension Reform?

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Good morning, grumpy pants!

Steven Greenhut, who knows where the bodies are buried when it comes to California's pension debacle, assesses the evidence to date and concludes non:

By his actions so far, Brown appears unserious about pension reform. At his recent news conference announcing his budget, he punted on pension reform, which is probably the biggest financial mess facing the state. Reporters asked about that, and, in his typically ornery way, he suggested that we go to his Web site and look at his plan. That plan isn't bad, as it calls for an end to pension-spiking abuses, a two-tiered system with lower benefits for new employees, an end to retroactive increases […], an increase in employee contributions and some good-government reforms to increase oversight of pension institutions such as the scandal-plagued California Public Employees' Retirement System.

Great, but there's a huge difference between including something on a campaign Web site and including it in a budget. On Jan. 13, […] Marcia Fritz, president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, the group best-known for publishing a database revealing how many state employees receive pensions of at least $100,000[,] … told [a limited-government conference] that during the campaign she had advised both Brown and GOP candidate Meg Whitman on pension-reform issues, and she gave Brown a list of several minor things he could do to save money on pensions – the low-hanging fruit that wouldn't elicit much blowback from the unions.

He could easily have included these elements in his plan and saved millions of dollars. Yet he chose not to include any of them. Fritz is an auditor, and when she audits companies she says she looks for little things to know whether the company is serious about getting its books in order. Looking at these little things – or rather the way Brown and Co. refused to take even the tiniest step toward pension reform in the budget – she is convinced that Brown is not serious about pension reform.

Whole thing here; link via the ever-valuable (and depressing!) Pension Tsunami. Make sure to re-read Greenhut's classic February 2010 Reason feature "Class War: How public servants became our masters."

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  1. When he was last governor, he was the guy who signed the bill requiring the state to negotiate with the unions. IOWs, he’s been using taxpayer money to buy votes since the ’70s.
    He’s also a two-faced liar.
    No, he’s not serious.

  2. Jerry’s waiting for a federal bailout. He’ll start lobbying for one before this year’s MLB all-star game.

  3. Are you serious?

    Are you serious?

    1. Never.

      Gets.

      Old.

  4. Jerry’s waiting for a federal bailout. He’ll start lobbying for one before this year’s MLB all-star game.

    That will cause Greek-style riots in the streets among actual taxpayers.

    1. If they were Greek-style riots, they’d be tax-users, not taxpayers.

    2. That will cause Greek-style riots in the streets among actual taxpayers.

      Doubtful in this state…unless it happens the same day as a Lakers NBA title.

      1. Oops. You wrote actual taxpayers. I retract my last statement.

    3. Let’s just hope the State has enough money to hand out free condoms at those riots.

    4. In every other state, absolutely. No taxation without representation, as the saying goes. California’s a crackhead. It doesn’t need a bailout or a handout, it needs rehab, and to be kept away from the crowd that got into this state.

  5. “And so the problem remained, most of the people were unhappy and many of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches”.

    (Check out Moonbeam’s wrist).

  6. He sounded serious about it during his campaign, at least for a democrat. I do think he recognizes that it is the major issue affecting the state’s coffers, but I think he’s spending so much political capital on across the board cuts to everything other than K-12 that he is punting on this one until after he has gone to war on those. As much as I was hesitant about him, I do believe Moonbeam is about the best us Californians could have expected. Given the certainty that a Dem would get the statewide office, I think he is among the least bad of his camp. That is by no means a ringing endorsement, but I have some cautious optimism that he will be less bad than the lion’s share of alternatives.

    1. As much as I was hesitant about him, I do believe Moonbeam is about the best us Californians could have expected.

      Which should make Californians incredibly sad.

  7. Given his own reluctance to reveal exactly how much he receives in benefits from his previous stints as Governor and other government employment, I’d say he’s not serious.

  8. Is Jerry Brown Hard-On Pension Reform?

  9. Is Jerry Brown Serious About Pension Reform?

    No. Next article…

  10. I think (hope?) he’s sandbagging on pension reform. He knows he won’t get anywhere on it until he has made every other cut that he can. After this budget gets done, with whatever pitiful cuts the legislature is willing to make, he’ll be in a position to say “Even with our New Austerity budget, we’re fucked, and the only place left to go is pensions.”

    Even somebody who was dead serious about pension reform would have to take this route, I believe.

  11. Pardon the interjection but, for a magazine called Reason, I think we’re looking at this all upside down.

    The question isn’t whether Jerry Brown is serious about pension reform; the question is whether the public employee unions are serious about pension reform!

    Why would any public employee union be serious about pension reform with Jerry Brown as governor or with the Democrats controlling the legislature?

    Why would any public employee union do that?!

    The point isn’t to make Jerry Brown capitulate. It’s making the public employee unions capitulate. Jerry Brown is a red herring here.

    Focus on the unions! Who runs the public employee unions? How do they make their decisions? Let’s put them in the public eye! …do it for the people of California.

    1. Focus on the unions! Who runs the public employee unions? How do they make their decisions? Let’s put them in the public eye!

      Unelected career bureaucrats. You know where I’m going with this, right?

      1. They have names and faces.

        If the decisions they make that are bankrupting California are made behind closed doors and they won’t answer questions?

        There’s no reason why that can’t be covered too.

        1. No, no! Bureaucrats are by definition “faceless and nameless”. It’s how they get away with all this stuff.

        2. “They have names and faces.”
          Yeah, and unlike Brown, who supposedly works for the voters, they don’t even have to pretend they do.
          My guess is their response would be a simple “up yours!”.

          1. “My guess is their response would be a simple “up yours!”

            Then I want that answer on the front web page of every newspaper in California.

            I want that answer as the lead in story on every crappy local newscast in the state.

            That’s exactly what we should be looking for.

    2. A microcosm of California public employees unions and their supporters… In San Luis Obispo The PD and FD refused to attend a conference the city held to help determine where cuts could be made to help keep the City solvent, and then they called the conference’s recommendations “biased”…

      There’s seven pages of comments at the local online paper with at least a quarter of them claiming Armageddon if the LEOs lose any money to their pay/pensions…seriously…

  12. Of course he’s serious. Look at that scowl and those folded arms. If that ain’t serious, I don’t know what is.

    1. I won’t believe it till I see at least one shaking fist.

  13. The political climate and those who will benefit from the status quo will dominate weather there is pension reform or not and i vote for not!There is no pain for the top of union leadership or the career burecrats,Only the politicians who are elected will face the potential wrath of the voters.

  14. The Democrats need the votes of the interest group called organised labor and the financial support of the afl-cio so how much going against labor will you see from the luv guv or the Democratic legislature will be minimal.Money is the mothers milk of politics so follow the money and the votes and have a cold one(get your own corona)and call it a day.

  15. I won’t believe it till I see at least one shaking fist.

    I’m kinda hoping he’ll pound a shoe on the podium.

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