» Steve Malanga

Bad pension ideas migrate to desperate NJ

hevesi6n-2-webFor two decades NJ has been a repository of some of the worst government pension practices in nation. Now in a desperate attempt to find answers to its huge pension problems, policy makers seem willing to consider bad ideas from elsewhere, perhaps reflecting how little the state understands about how it got into its mess in the first place. The latest notion is that neighboring NY managed to avoid similar problems thanks to its comptroller’s office, which somehow kept the state out of pension trouble. Ha!

Philly goes nuclear, cancels teachers’ contract

nocontractIn a startling move against an intransigent union, the special commission that manages the Philadelphia school system has cancelled the system’s teachers’ contract and imposed reductions on benefits costs to salvage the budget of the badly indebted system. The move, in which the Philadelphia School Reform Commission invokes emergency powers, comes after the teachers’ union spent more than a year resisting concessions…

Sparse ballot year for pension reform initiatives

This is a busy campaign season, given congressional mid-term elections and 36 governor races. State ballots are also full of direct democracy votes, a total of 148 initiatives of one sort or another according to Ballotpedia. But distinctly missing from ballots at the state level are any pension or government labor reform measures…

GOP’s Fung has his own R.I. pension reform story

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s victory in the Sept. 9 Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial primary has attracted a lot of national attention (see here, here and here, for instance) in large part because of her successful state pension reforms. But her Republican opponent, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, has his own retirement reforms to tout in a state where municipalities have been under severe pressures from rising retirement costs, too…

Pensions drive local taxes up, up and away in PA….

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for pension reform hasn’t resonated with the state’s residents, which is one big reason why Corbett hasn’t been able to persuade even his own Republican colleagues in the state legislature to enact changes to the state’s underfunded pensions. But now that municipal and school taxes are going up around the state in direct response to higher pension costs…

When reporters don’t bother reading budgets….

The Grey Lady had a story Monday on how Los Angeles can’t afford to invest in its crumbling infrastructure because of a continuing budget squeeze. The story starts off with an embarrassing mistake, confusing the LA County budget ($26 billion) for the city budget ($8.1 billion)–see correction at end of later editions. Then it contains not a single other budget number of consequence throughout, suggesting the reporter never bothered (or wasn’t capable of) reading the city’s budget. That’s one reason why the story only briefly mentions pensions but hangs the problem on a host of other issues including (wait for it) Californians’ aversion to higher taxes (yeah, really)…

Pensions: When you can’t trust the trustees

Last week the board of trustees of Calpers, dominated by six beneficiaries of the pension fund, voted to essentially undue some of Jerry Brown’s modest 2012 pension reforms with their liberal interpretation of the new rules. I have a piece in the LA Times today describing how this is not just a California problem. Many pension funds are directed by boards dominated by beneficiaries…

More about our bulging public school payrolls

Back in 2011 I wrote a piece in the Wall St. Journal about the increase in local government payrolls over the decades, focusing in particular on school systems and the rise in both teacher-to-student ratios and also the sharp increase in non-teaching employees. Some defenders of the schools wrote in to suggest the growth in employees had been driven by demographic factors, including a sharp increase in special ed students and students who spoke English as a second language…

SEC lashes Kansas with a wet noodle

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued another toothless set of fraud charges against a state. The regulator has cited Kansas for misleading investors about the condition of its severely underfunded pension system and the risks that purchasers of its bonds potentially faced. As in its earlier actions against New Jersey and Illinois, the SEC levied no fines nor recommended anyone to prosecutors for further investigations, even though all of these SEC actions have accused the states of fraud…

Audit fires up New Orleans’ pension controversy

Should taxpayers be responsible for soaring costs in a pension fund that has been mismanaged by its trustees, many of whom are government workers elected by their colleagues to run the retirement system? That’s the debate playing out in New Orleans, where Mayor Mitch Landrieu …