In his Tuesday column – here – Editorial Director Paul Gullixson wrote about Assemblywoman Noreen Evans and her contention that state government should not attempt to reform its under-funded pension system until the economic crisis has run its course.
Gullixson observes that this sounds like “saying we should wait until the house burns down before we talk about how to fight the fire.”
In this debate, folks who want to delay reforms are not shy about characterizing any mention of pension shortfalls as an attack on state workers.
But delaying economic reality won’t make life better for state workers. If the state fails to bring pension costs in line with what the state can afford to pay, the eventual victims will be public workers, especially younger workers who will be compensated less in every way – smaller salaries, fewer benefits, smaller pensions than their elders. The longer the state waits to puts its financial house in order, the more draconian will be the impacts.
Keep in mind, too, that there is no magic here. California is in a world of trouble. More money for pensions also means less money for education, for programs that serve the poor, the elderly and the disabled, for parks and for other worthwhile services.
There are no happy endings. We are only trying to limit the unhappy endings.
For a long time, state government has been kicking this can down the road, hoping – against all logic – that miracles happen.
Maybe it’s time to try a different approach.