Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yes, Soon, California Will Be Known As The State That Cares About Its Employees. Oh No!

The Roundup excerpts reaction to a report on the costs of covering public employee benefits:

The panel's refusal to call for a reining in of benefits irked some fiscal conservatives. They say government workers in California are more richly compensated than their counterparts in other states and at private companies.

"'Other states simply don't unilaterally grant retirees these healthcare benefits for life,' said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

"He said the commission should have proposed cutting the costly health benefits and raising the retirement age of state workers.

"Former Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman, who is leading an effort to place an initiative on the ballot that would cut pension benefits for government workers, agreed.

"'We have people retiring at age 50 with more than 100 percent of their salaries and lifetime health benefits, and the commission didn't address that at all,' he said. 'The benefits offered to public employees in this state are extravagant. . . . It is just wrong.'"
Why is it wrong? Because they are public employees? At a time when we're bemoaning the break down of pension programs in corporate America, what, is it just unfair that anyone gets the benefits due after the requisite years of service? Why is it that public employees are expected to be altruistic with their job skills, gifting the state with their work and expecting next to nothing in return? Or, if you choose to believe that private industry doesn't get all mushy and lovey with its benefits packages, why shouldn't the state be a more model employer, setting up ample security to keep people from siphoning public reasources later on? I just don't buy the argument that California's goal should be to suck as much as other states or private entities. There's some inspirational goal setting.

2 comments:

Sisyphus said...

I agree with you CD, but for a different reason. If the state contracted with people to provide these benefits in exchange for their years of service, it is morally wrong at the least (and probably legally prohibited) to take away their contracted-for benefits.

If the state can get enough workers without some of the ridiculous retirement benefits it provides now, I would be in favor of eliminating the rules that allow such high retirement payouts, zero co-pays on health insurance in some instances, etc. But that should only be prospective, not retrospective.

Anonymous said...

"If the state contracted with people to provide these benefits in exchange for their years of service, it is morally wrong at the least (and probably legally prohibited) to take away their contracted-for benefits."

Actually virtually the entire problem was created in 2000-2001, when the state and many city governments estimated that the investment gains of 1996-2000 would continue for 20+ years into the future, and approved benefit increases based on those future (insanely high) rates of return.

If benefits go back to the 1999 level, some huge share of the problem disappears.

And does anyone really think that it's "well-earned" that some state employees' salaries go UP when they retire?