Low, Dave

Dave Low is the Chairman of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security. This post originally appeared on www.PublicCEO.com

Do California's Unions Support Pension "Reform"? You Bet

By Dave Low
Californians for Retirement Security

Beginning with a special conference committee hearing in Carson City on October 26th, Sacramento is slated to begin a timely and deliberate re-crafting of California's public pension system. Both the governor and the Legislature plan to launch a thorough review of the system -- with meaningful hearings and in-depth exploration of fair and workable fixes -- which will be a positive step toward ensuring the system's stability and long-term affordability.

The condition of public pensions in California is not a crisis despite the best efforts of pension slashers to portray it as such. Pension costs make up just three percent of the state budget, a percentage that has actually fallen $600 million over the past two years as collective bargaining has increased the share public workers contribute to their pensions and as funds have taken tougher lines on pension spiking.

Time for a Reality Check in California's Pension Talks

By Dave Low
Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security

It is absolutely worthwhile to consider how to ensure that California's public pension systems remain on a sound footing and able to provide a secure retirement for public workers.  

But issues about the cost/benefit of public employee pensions have become a major point of contention in the heated debate on how to fix California's state budget problems. Pension-spiking poster children, manufactured data supposedly showing huge unfunded liabilities and false charges of labor intransigence have cast a dark cloud over public pensions.

For instance, a common claim is that pension costs will bankrupt state government. In fact, the entire costs of pensions for state workers in 2011 will be $3.5 billion, barely 4% out of an $85 billion budget. Add CalSTRS and the total is not even 6% of the budget. If we paid zero into public employee pensions and eliminated them altogether, we would not come close to solving the budget deficit.