March 3, 2007

The truth about pensions

LAAG has a better idea than the ones below. Lets do to the govt employees pensions the same thing the private sector has done. Let the govermnet entities file bankruptcy and let the bankruptcy courts do what the political hacks cannot or will not do (due to vote pandering to/by the public employee unions)

The truth about pensions
A former politician speaks out about unsustainable benefits.

Article Launched: 02/27/2007 07:32:54 PM PST
Long Beach Press Telegram

Keith Richman, a moderate Republican who was among a very few politicians in California willing to tell taxpayers the truth about the state's impending public pension disaster, no longer is in office. But fortunately, he's still telling the truth.

In speeches and in a recent article in the Orange County Register, Richman reminds us that the huge deficits have not gone away. The shortfall for public employees in Orange County alone is $1 billion for retirees' health care and $2.3 billion for lavish pensions.

For state employees, the shortfall is $140 billion for retiree health care, and $100 billion for pensions. Compare those numbers to the state's budget deficit of only a few billion dollars, which politicians struggle over and still can't quite seem to cover.

The State Employees Association belittles Richman's warnings as a crisis that doesn't exist. Oh, come on. The deficit numbers come straight from the California Legislative Analyst.

These plush benefits bear no resemblance to the real world of nongovernment jobs. That's bad enough from a taxpayer's view, but the more important point is that the benefits are unsustainable.

Politicians, who solicit money from government employee unions to finance their careers, show no interest whatever in negotiating more sensible contracts.

Richman offers a better solution: Continue the benefits for existing employees, but stop offering them to new nonsafety employees. Raise the retirement age to 65, which would cut pension costs by 50 percent and medical costs by a third. The retirement age for new public safety employees, who are subject to greater risk of physical disability, would be 55.

As Richman says, there is no defensible reason why government clerks, diesel mechanics, cooks, bureaucrats and the like should retire 10 years earlier than their private-sector counterparts.

We'd like to see Richman back in public office. But in office or out, we're grateful that he keeps speaking the truth.

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