California state workers are fearful that a dubious practice known as airtime -- they buy extra retirement benefits on the cheap -- will soon be eliminated. So they are rushing to take advantage of this benefit, according to the Sacramento Bee. Per the newspaper: "California government employees, fearing that lawmakers may soon shut down a controversial program that boosts their retirement payouts, have flooded the state's largest pension system with inquiries and requests to purchase the benefit ... The spike in interest comes perhaps as a consequence of the raging debate over public pensions. Many observers expect Gov. Jerry Brown to renew a proposal to end airtime as one way to scale back costs."
As the Bee's editorial page noted, "Pensions are supposed to be something workers earn, not a commodity they can buy. That's what makes 'airtime,' the practice of public employees purchasing extra years of service credit to fatten their pension payouts, so perverse. When pension officials miscalculate the real cost of airtime, it also increases already staggering public retirement costs." Airtime should be stopped, but I don't think government employees have to fear that a Legislature that refused to strip pensions from convicted felons is going to do anything about this pension-spiking scam. And as I wrote today in my newspaper column, Gov. Jerry Brown, despite some hopes to the contrary and despite some mention of the need to reform pensions, has decided to serve mainly as an advocate for public sector unions.