Is pension reform dead?

Today Jon Ortiz of the Sacramento Bee reported that since neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman will publicly support California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility‘s proposed pension reform initiative, the group will abandon efforts to get the measure onto the November 2010 ballot.

“We’re regrouping,” Marcia Fritz, CFFR’s president, told me in a follow-up interview. “We’re still advocating for pension reform, though mostly now at the local level. When you don’t have the leadership up at the top supporting you, it’s a bad sign.”

(Click here for my original story on CFFR’s proposed measure; click here for Troy Anderson’s recent take on the pressing need for pension reform).

Fritz said additional information that came to light after signature-gathering began indicated that the initiative was actually flawed, and could conceivably have allowed even greater pension benefits than are currently available to public employees.

“The unions could actually have opposed us saying our proposed benefits were too generous,” Fritz said.

Clearly, the magnitude of opposition gathering against the measure (Ortiz used the word “Armageddon”) exasperated Fritz. “Why do we even vote for people anymore?” she asked rhetorically. “Why not just give all the offices to the unions?”

-Anthony Pignataro

3 comments

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  1. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 24 February, 2010, 19:23

    Poor Marcia Fritz. Last time you were involved in this, poor old Keith Richman’s anti-worker pension scheme was so legally flawed that the governor pulled his support. This time, neither the governor nor (Exaggerated) Meg were willing to even express their support. You’d think you would get the message by now. The people of California do not believe you should cut off survivor benefits for the survivors of police and fightfighters killed in the line of duty (yes, that was actually a part of the Richman plan). They do not believe that public employees should have to give up secure pensions for risky 401(k) crapshoots.

    So sorry you are exasperated, Marcia. But the governor and EMeg both are smart enough to understand that if you put that measure on the ballot, you will LOSE. And that’s the reason we “vote for people.”

    Now as to giving all the offices to the unions, maybe that’s not such a bad idea. They sure couldn’t screw things up worse than they already are with Arnold and the “head-on-a-stick” anti government crazies effectively tying our state in knots.

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  2. PRI
    PRI Author 25 February, 2010, 09:12

    Once again, the Governator who promised us “Action! Action! Action!” has given us Inaction! Inaction! Inaction!

    Postponing pension reform now only will make future reforms more draconian. There’s no money now. There will be even less money in the future.

    California is broke.

    America is broke.

    The party’s over.

    Get used to it.

    — John Seiler

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  3. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 27 February, 2010, 10:28

    Oh, please, John. There is money now. We can tax oil production (check out the profits of the oil companies sometime). We can eliminate corporate tax breaks and close loopholes. We can fix our tax system to make it more stable and fairer.

    It’s all a matter of choice. The Rabid Right says that the only way we can deal with the budget crisis is to target pensions, lay off public employees, and continue to slash health and human service programs. But we do have other choices.

    As to so-called pension “reform”, there are two numbers that the Rabid Right will never mention. First is the number $2l,000. That’s the average yearly pension benefit paid out by CalPERS. That’s hardly a “gold-plated” pension, especially for those who aren’t eligible for Social Security.

    The second number is 12 cents. That is the amount of every pension benefit dollar that is paid for by the state. As to the rest, 75 cents comes from CalPERS investments and 13 cents comes from employee contributions.

    By the way, even if pension reform is enacted tomorrow, it won’t impact the state’s budget situation for years to come.

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