Public pensions cripple state’s ability to pay for other critical services

One of the most critical reform issues facing California that voters did not
have a chance to vote on during last year’s special election was public
employee pension reform. Someday in the very near future they may regret
that they did not have that opportunity.

The pension issue is a hangover from the bust of the late 90s. In
2000, when the state had a huge windfall in revenues, Governor Davis and the
legislature reduced the retirement age from 60 to 55 and granted huge
pension and salary concessions to the public employees unions.

Over the next few years many baby boomer public employees will take
advantage of this situation and retire, increasing the number of retirees
and putting a strain on the state’s pension system.

Governor Schwarzenegger was keenly aware of this when in his 2005 State of
the State, he said, “Our state pension system is another financial train on
another track for disaster. California’s pension obligations have risen from
$160 million in 2000 to $2.6 billion this year. Another government program
out of control, threatening our state”

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