Is Gov. Brown disinterested in pension reform?

Is Gov. Brown disinterested in pension reform?

Brown JerryLater today, the governing board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is expected to pass rules giving state employees 99 ways to spike their “pensionable pay.” Gov. Jerry Brown only objected to one of the 99 bonuses.

This is the same governor who billed his 2012 pension reform legislation as a game changer. Baloney.

Supporting an approach that the Sac Bee editorial page likens to sanctioning “spiking by another name” is a farce. So is endorsing CalPERS’ theory that anti-spiking provisions of the state legislation have to be collectively bargained at the individual agency level, as board member J.J. Jelincic said Tuesday.

But Brown’s heart has never been in the reform effort, despite all his rhetorical flourishes and his credit-taking.

Two more examples of fake reform

The fake quality of Brown’s reform spirit has shown itself repeatedly.

The state Public Employment Relations Board, controlled by Brown appointees, has tried to sandbag local pension reforms approved in landslides by voters in San Jose and San Diego.

But worst of all is how — when it came to teachers — the governor didn’t just turn his back on his 2012 promise to have public employees share equally with taxpayers the cost of their pensions; instead, Jerry Brown OK’d a CalSTRS funding change that socked taxpayers even harder while insulating teachers from the pain of the fix. Under Brown’s plan …

… eventually there will $5 billion more a year in state spending to cover CalSTRS’ unfunded liabilities. 70 percent of that will come from districts (and thus indirectly from the state); 20 percent will come directly from the state; and 10 percent will come from teachers.

So much for a 50-50 split of pension funding costs. That’s from Cal Watchdog.

A genius at PR, not governance

When the history of Jerry Brown’s return to the governor’s office is written, the establishment probably will promote the narrative that he was a genius. I think that narrative is built almost entirely on the fact that Prop. 25 makes it easier to pass state budgets and that Silicon Valley — without Brown’s help — is such an amazing economic engine.

The California that I see has the nation’s highest-poverty rate; is on track to have the nation’s biggest public works boondoggle; and operates a public school system more interested in helping adult employees than students.

If this is a success story, the definition of success is … evolving.

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