Scott Walker picked his election season battle when he decided to slash the budget of Wisconsin’s university system; now Chris Christie has set out to attack another blue model institution, public unions, with an ambitious pension reform. His budget speech yesterday endorsed a “roadmap” laid out by an independent commission he appointed, the WSJ reports:
A plan released Tuesday by a commission convened by the Christie administration called for the current state pension system to be frozen, to align future benefits for state workers with those found in the private sector and to start a type of defined-benefit pension plan that more closely mirrors investment returns.In return, the state would constitutionally guarantee annual payments into the pension system, which could begin at $2.6 billion a year and grow annually. […]State Democrats and public-sector unions criticized Mr. Christie’s call for further changes to the pension system, saying workers already made concessions when the governor agreed to pay more into the pension system in 2011.
For the second time and with far greater ambition, Christie is going after a target that would have been a political third rail a few decades ago. Nowadays, however, the position of public unions and their pensions isn’t as secure—as Walker’s own victories prove. And as we’ve said before, Walker’s current choice of blue-model target, the university system, is a whole lot smarter than many people realize. Whatever happens to either candidate between now and election day 2016, the war on the blue model is being waged on our most important battlefield.