The Sacramento Bee got its hands on 14 years of pension data from CalPERS and did some analysis. What it found should both surprise no one and cause outrage at the same time: on average, payout to new retirees in California doubled between 1999 and 2012, with police and firefighter pensions almost tripling in that period.Even union bosses are starting to see that this is unsustainable:
Jon Hamm, executive director of the CHP officers’ union, said his members “have a difficult job, more than what most people realize.”But after pressing for the higher retirement formulas years ago, Hamm has said he’s worried about the viability of public pensions. He supported Brown’s proposal last year to roll back pension formulas for future state and local government hires and shift more of the cost to employees.Over the last several years, he has negotiated contracts that divert some CHP officers’ raises to pay more for pension and retiree health benefits.“We’re trying to be part of the solution,” Hamm said.
We don’t begrudge anybody who’s worked as a cop or a firefighter (or a teacher or a sanitation worker) some reasonable security and dignity in old age, but the dirty collusion between politicians who “grant” big pension increases (and then refuse to pay for them) and union leaders who advertise their big pension “wins” without warning their members that these pensions aren’t secure is bad for everybody: for taxpayers, for retirees, for those who depend on state and municipal services.It’s an ugly game, and the only way to stop it is tough laws that subject government and public agency pensions to the strict standards found in the private sector. Nobody who really cares about retirement security should object to it. Being against this reform means wanting the retirement scam to continue. Voters should be demanding pension reform from one end of the country to the other, tossing politicians who won’t go along out on their ears.