CalSTRS hearing underscores Mac Taylor’s destructive happy talk

CalSTRS hearing underscores Mac Taylor’s destructive happy talk

mac-taylor-02-300x186An Assembly committee hearing Wednesday on the immense underfunding problems facing the California State Teachers’ Retirement System also illuminated another strange problem in Sacramento: the emergence of Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor as a civic arsonist.

As John Myers reported, one of Taylor’s staffers provided key testimony at the hearing, going over findings from a new LAO report:

“[It] concludes that CalSTRS needs $900 million in additional contributions from all sources in the 2015-16 fiscal year, rising sharply to $5.7 billion a year by the summer of 2021. And that’s just to cover current liabilities.

“What happens if lawmakers continue to delay taking action? The LAO report (PDF) pegs just delay beyond 2015 at an additional $150 million a year for the following 30 years … and $300 million a year if waiting just two years beyond 2015.

“The message: the hole gets deeper every year. And it’s a bigger problem than other long-term state debts.

“‘This liability tends to grow much faster,'” said analyst Ryan Miller in Wednesday’s hearing.

‘The state’s structural deficit … is no more’

But then, of course, there is the contrary view that looks at the state’s fiscal future and predicts surpluses for years to come … also courtesy of the LAO:

“’The state’s budgetary condition is stronger than at any point in the past decade. … The state’s structural deficit – in which ongoing spending commitments were greater than projected revenues – is no more.’”

That’s what Mac Taylor said in November in testimony to the Legislature. Evidently, pension debt isn’t an “ongoing spending commitment.”

This isn’t a minor problem — a knucklehead lawmaker mouthing off about a topic about which he knows nothing. This is the head of the state’s (previously) most respected watchdog agency offering a grossly deceptive description of the state’s financial health and providing cover to those who want to ramp up spending.

Taylor should be embarrassed. I’m sure Ryan Miller looks at his boss’ November testimony and feels like throwing up.

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