No one really expected the Republican members of the California State Assembly to rise to the challenge of closing the state’s yawning budget deficit. They’re cash-and-carry politicians, mostly, and they remained true to form when — faced with an easy vote to eliminate a truly monstrous “redevelopment” agency — they voted to keep it.
Expectations were much higher for Governor Gerry Brown (D-CA). He’s smart, he’s experienced and since winning election last November at the tender age of 72, he pledged (again and again) to tackle California’s budget issues honestly and transparently.
Yesterday, Gov. Brown released a “pension reform” proposal that was both disappointing and depressing. The go-to guy on matters like this is Steve Greenhut. Here’s some of what he had to say:
It’s hard to know whether to be relieved that Gov. Jerry Brown has finally recognised the state’s massive pension problem or to be appalled at how long it took for him to address and at the way his “Jerry Come Lately” plan manages to avoid the most serious issues.
Stanford University estimates California’s pension liability at an astounding half trillion dollars, yet the governor has resisted Republican efforts to put serious pension reform on the ballot in addition to the tax-extension measures Brown believes are the key to a budget solution. Now, after the governor backed out of talks with the GOP, he released his pension plan. This is about little more than public relations — a chance for the governor to shame the GOP while championing the reform mantle.
But Brown isn’t really interested in pension reform. Union officials seemed surprised that he released the plan. They complain that any such reforms should be done at the negotiating table, which has been the standard Democratic talking point. That’s a joke. Unions typically own both sides of the negotiating table. They elect their own bosses. Anything done at that table will only harm taxpayers. But if Brown were serious about pension reform, his plan would not have been a shock to unions. He would have already given them an ultimatum or at least given them the heads-up about what was coming down the pike. Nope, this was a quick press release offered for bargaining purposes as a way to one-up the GOP.
It’s not that the proposals are bad. I support all of these things. It’s just that these are the obvious simple reforms that should not even be up for debate.
You can read the whole thing here.