Wimpy pension deal

Steven Greenhut: We got the heads up earlier that the governor had negotiated a blockbuster pension deal with four public employee unions, but now we see that this is no sort of deal. As the Bee reported, “Newly hired patrol officers and firefighters would come in under a new pension formula that would allow them to retire at age 55 with 3 percent of the average of their highest three years of pay multiplied by their years of service up to 90 percent of that average wage. Current employees can retire at age 50. New and existing employees in all four groups would increase their pension contributions to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System from the current 5 percent of their pay to 10 percent.”

These are minor concessions that will have absolutely no effect on the coming pension tsunami for retired public employees, many of whom are members of the $100,000 Pension Club. And get this: the unions get some huge payoffs in return — additional step raises and protection from earning the minimum wage during a budget standoff. The governor blinks as usual, but now he gets to claim that he fixed the pension mess and can say that he has made good on his threat not to pass a budget without pension reform.

The unions get to pretend that they, too, are interested in reform and aren’t simply self-interested folks who don’t care about what their out-sized pensions are doing to the budget and to public services.

If this is the governor’s idea of pension reform, then bring on the initiative process!


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