CA Local Governments Looking to Cut Pension Benefits

The Sacramento Bee reports “Local governments across California are poised to roll back pension benefits for public employees.”

The movement comes a decade after retirement systems made huge gains in the stock market and local governments began increasing pension benefits. Officials now blame the cost of those enhanced benefits for exacerbating recent budget problems and increasing the size of the service cuts municipalities are making.

“You’re going to pay the price in diminished services,” said Ted Gaebler, the Rancho Cordova city manager . . .

. . .

“From the outset we’re opposed to this,” said Daniel Uselmann, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 146 president. “This is nothing more than anti-worker, anti-union pension grabbing.”

Given the pushback, some doubt collective bargaining will produce enough concessions to save cash-strapped governments.

“We need a meat ax. We don’t need just a little butter knife,” said Marcia Fritz, president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, a group pushing for pension overhaul. “This is absolutely a war between common sense and union control.”

The only sure way to fix the problem is at the ballot box, said Henry Tingle, Citrus Heights’ city manager. “It’s going to have to go to the voters. There’s too many bargaining units,” Tingle said.

Read Reason’s take on this read Class War–How public servants became our masters, from the February 2010 issue of Reason and our policy study How California’s Public Pension System Broke (and How to Fix It)