CA Pension Reform: the ‘Third Rail’ of Gov’t?

Today I had the opportunity to attend a day-long ‘boot camp’ on pension reform in California. I thought the event provided a great overview of what are the current problems we face and how we got here.

None of the massive numbers thrown around shocked me (as someone who has followed this topic), when you talk about $100 Billion in unfunded liability that is old news to those of us who are paying attention, the truly shocking part of the program was hearing some of the Democrat speakers acknowledge the boondoggle we are in now.

When the issue of pension reform has been raised in the past, many Dems have taken the “Oz Approach” as I like to call it, (i.e. ‘There’s nothing to see here’  ‘Don’t look at the man behind the curtain, just listen to what I tell you is true.’) The most notable of these is our current Treasurer, Bill Lockyear. He often criticizes Republican electeds for blowing the issue out of proportion and claims that in terms of a crisis there ‘is nothing to see here.’

Having said that, some of those Dems present were truthful with the facts, most notably former State Senator Steve Peace. Senator Peace began by congratulating a former Houston Mayor for renegotiating public employee pensions in that city as well as highlighting some key changes in technology which have fundamentally changed our work force demands. He concluded by championing workplace flexibility (something the Cal Chamber has supported for about 10 years) and state worker furloughs.

I was left feeling very optimistic about the future of pension reform…then the union rep spoke… *sigh* more to come

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