Commentary: Pension Reform Worth Pursuing

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 15, 2005

Let’s be blunt here. Arnold Schwarzenegger got his clock cleaned on pensions. A flawed measure he signed onto was flogged to death by the state’s powerful public employee unions.

But don't give up, Governor. If this state is ever to right its financial ship, pension reform is a must. You asked for this job - so buck it up.

Here's some advice. Why not use all those campaign contributions you've collected to tell the public the ugly truth. Public pensions are too fat.

Most police and fire fighters can retire in their early 50s with 90 percent of their pay. If they claim a disability - and a huge percentage of them do - they retire with half that pay tax free.

At the local government level, pensions are even richer. In Sacramento County many retirees receive more in retirement pay than they did on the job. We can’t afford it.

For new employees, pension benefits should be rolled back, and retirement ages increased. Why should public employees be able to retire at 50 or 55 when private sector workers lucky enough to have pensions can't collect full benefits until age 65 or older.

Just tell people the truth, Governor, and they will demand reform.



Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.