Jerry Brown is presenting his proposed overhaul of public pensions this week. So what’s wrong with public pensions and what should Brown do to fix them?
“Airtime” purchases defy intellectual gravity; that practice should be grounded immediately. Spiking should be outlawed; there should be no state pensions in excess of $100,000 (indexed for inflation); and the categories of “safety” retirees should be sharply reduced. Psychiatric technicians and the like are NOT police officers and firefighters. They shouldn’t be treated the same way. And cops and firefighters and remaining safety employees should have to wait until age 55 to get their full benefits. At 50, they could opt for the reduced payout. I am not a mean person, by the way, but we need to get real.
Public pensions in California have become so generous they have made the public employees the “haves” and those that they serve the “have nots”.
Pensions are a smaller percentage of the budget now than they were when Brown was governor. Brown should crack down on abuse, airtime, and eliminate the $100k+ pensions that are just 2 percent of the system but get 98 percent of the media coverage.
There has been too much gaming of the system, too many public employees earning as much or more in retirement than they earned as productive workers. And many public-safety employees retire far too early, allowing them to re-enter the job market and collect a pension. These abusive loopholes need to be closed while preserving pensions as a way for retirees to remain financially independent.
Our so-called public servants should get the same pensions the rest of us – who pay for them – do: social security and a 401k. The reality and the actual unfunded liability needs to be public and we need to have transparency about what we taxpayers are paying for.
The only thing worse than public-sector pensions are private-sector pensions. If you think that public pensions are bad, check out what the average private employer provides, the same employers who get tax break after tax break out of the system, then complain about abuses.
There’s nothing really wrong with public pensions for the rank and file worker. He just needs to focus on a reasonable cap (nobody needs pensions over a hundred grand) and preventing “spiking.” But middle class workers should and probably will continue to receive decent pensions.
Anti-public pension hysteria is driven by people who are jealous. I say if you can work for the state for decades, you deserve all the security you can get in your old age. Anybody who can handle state employment deserves a good pension.
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