Tag archive for Sacramento Bee

CalPERS data deflates another pension fiction

Public-employee unions are notorious for championing easily debunked myths as they claim that the nation’s growing unfunded pension liabilities are no real problem. It’s hard to justify six-figure, lifetime guaranteed pensions to a public that retires mostly on measly amounts, so unions play fast-and-loose with …

Walters: Stockton decision not a clear win for CalPERS

The Sacramento Bee’s columnist Dan Walters argues that the Stockton bankruptcy decision is not a clear win for unions or the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). As he wrote, “But the details of Klein’s ruling imply that the city and CalPERS may not prevail …

California prison guards imprisoning taxpayers

Art Laffer had a great piece in the Sacramento Bee today that explained exactly why California has the highest per-capita cost to incarcerate inmates ($47,000 a year): “That figure certainly is not chump change, but the folks behind bars are not the reason that the …

Jerry Brown tells Bee pension reform falls short

I just got a statement from the folks battling Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-increase measure in November, and it features a telling quote that the governor gave to the Sacramento Bee regarding the pension-reform bill he just signed: “What I got was the most that could …

Parks scandal spotlights Brown’s false choices

Jerry Brown’s entire governorship is based on a false choice: higher taxes or fewer government services. A scandal in the parks department, however, highlights the problems he faces as he asks Californians to “temporarily” raise sales and income taxes in the Prop. 30 initiative in November. In my column last week for Bloomberg, I explain that a surreptitious plan by state employees to grant themselves vacation buyouts led to the realization that parks officials had hidden $54 million in parks money in two accounts even as they were planning to shutter 70 parks following $22 million in proposed cuts

Have California Dems really embraced pension reform?

California’s legislative Democrats and Democratic governor have announced a pension-reform package that doesn’t go particularly far, but goes far enough to annoy some public sector unions. California Professional Firefighters President Lou Paulson said in a statement today, “The pension proposals outlined today represent a retreat from collective bargaining and basic principles of retirement security.” He portrayed the state’s unionized firefighters — who earn total compensation packages that average in the $170,000 range, and who can retire with more than 90 percent of their final year’s pay at age 50 — as “everyday working people.” Other unions are complaining also. It’s absurd that unions continue to insist that reform can take place at the bargaining table. That’s where they have the most power and where reform rarely happens. Democrats have suddenly embraced pension reform because polls show that without such reform, voters are unlikely to approve the tax-increase initiative they back in November, so the proposal are more about cynicism than reform.

California state park system rocked by scandal

It’s a long-time reflex of California liberals to make budget cuts appear unpalatable by putting the most sympathetic examples of government spending on the chopping block. Thus, every time that a little belt-tightening is even whispered about, a predictable parade of victims is trotted out: police officers, firefighters, teachers, and — inevitably — the state’s public park system. But a scandal breaking today has revealed that — at the same time that a widespread fundraising effort to keep public parks open was being conducted — the department that handled state parks had secretly stashed away over $50 million in taxpayer money.

Assembly chooses union privacy over open society

The California Assembly voted 68-0 to allow counties to carve out a special exemption so that public officials can shield their name from public listings of property records, thus setting in motion an exemption that ultimately will undermine the whole purpose of public records. Expect this list to grow rapidly from police and judges to virtually every other member of a public sector union, just as another California program that allows public employees and their family members to keep their license plate information private has expanded to one group after another.

Is the pension-reform argument over now?

I’ve seen the polls suggesting support for pension reform, even among California Democrats. Everyone I talk to understands this issue. Even some politicians in liberal cities such as San Jose and San Francisco are pushing for reforms. But I still didn’t think the debate was over until I read this blog in the Sacramento Bee, which quoted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento: “I think there’s an expectation that we’ll pass pension reform this year and we intend to do so. And that is the right thing to do. And I think it also shows the people as we approach the November election that we’re serious about the reform side of the agenda as well.”

San Diego provides hope amidst California’s otherwise dismal pension problems

These are not exactly the salad days of public pension reformers in California. As Dan Walters, the dean of Golden State political columnists, notes in his latest at the Sacramento Bee, Governor Jerry Brown’s statewide reform initiative is withering on the vine thanks to opposition from legislative Democrats and their union allies. Organized labor is also pulling out all the stops to obstruct reform efforts in the cities of San Jose and San Diego. There is one bright spot, however: in San Diego, the electorate doesn’t seem anxious to buy what big labor is selling