Health Benefits

Philly: More dubious budget reporting from NYTimes

The NY Times finally decided to jump in with its take on the controversial story of Philadelphia’s school reform commission cancelling the teachers’ contract. Not surprisingly, in a story largely sympathetic to teachers (pointing out, for instance, that they make less in salary than neighboring suburban teacher) the Times ignores most of the relevant fiscal facts…

Health care + pensions equal insolvent NJ

New Jersey has gotten a lot of publicity lately because Chris Christie has balked at meeting the state’s extraordinary pension burden, arguing that further reform of the system is necessary. But as a recent NJ report makes clear, Jersey really has a problem of expensive health care for workers and retirees on top of bulging pension debts, which have raised the cost of employee benefits in NJ well above the norm for states. The reason Jersey isn’t paying all of its benefit costs is because it couldn’t possibly afford to…

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…

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)…

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Walker’s Act 10

The long legal battle over Scott Walker’s controversial Act 10, the budget repair bill in Wisconsin, appears to be over. In a major legal victory for Walker in an election year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has just ruled that the bill was constitutional in a 5-2 decision. The far ranging 2011 bill was known chiefly because it limited collective bargaining rights for many public employees…

Philly schools “inadequate” at $12,000 per student

The Philadelphia school system last month projected spending about $2.4 billion next year to educate about 200,000 students. The state commission that runs the city’s schools, however, wants millions of dollars in additional spending just to offer what it claims would still be an “inadequate” education. How is it that a school district that spends more than the national average per student can’t manage ? One look at its personnel costs and perks, including exploding pensions and legal services for union members, gives you an idea why…

Will NY lock in retiree health costs?

New York State and its government subdivisions have unfunded liabilities of $250 billion for promised public-sector retiree health coverage — a disproportionate share of at least $1 trillion in other post-employment benefits (OPEB) benefits promised by states and local governments throughout the country.
Incredibly, with days …

Stockton must face last angry creditor

Bankrupt Stockton heads to court on Monday to win approval for its plan to exit Chapter 9, but it still has not crafted an agreement with one The-U.S.-Government-Is-Our-Biggest-Creditor-and-Other-Statisticsmajor creditor, Franklin Advisers, which is being asked to take a gigantic haircut in the case. Instead, Franklin will argue that Stockton hasn’t done enough to cut its debts, especially its pension costs.If Franklin can’t persuade U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein to force Stockton and Calpers to come to some kind of deal reducing the city’s pension debts…

How NYC teachers got big raises without a contract

News outlets in New York are reporting that a deal is taking shape between the de Blasio administration and the city’s teachers’ union that would grant teachers their first contract since 2009. What many of the news stories will fail to mention, however, is that teachers have been getting regular raises since then even in the absence of a contract thanks to union-friendly New York State law…

Pensions squeeze NY’s state capital…

Capital cities–the places where state legislators do their work–are feeling a growing pinch from spiking employee costs, especially pensions. The latest to shout for help is Albany, NY, which yesterday asked a new Financial Restructuring Board created by Gov. Cuomo for help as a precursor …