March 2012 Archives
When Governor Cuomo proposed giving future employees the option of choosing a defined-contribution retirement plan, the 66,000-member Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and its allies angrily rejected the idea, calling DC plans part of an "assault on the middle class" and a threat to retirement security of workers. To be sure, Cuomo's proposal was poorly conceived and inadequately funded. But instead of lobbying for a better DC plan, like the one already chosen by three quarters of the professors at the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY), CSEA President Danny Donohue and other union bosses loudly, persistently and categorically rejected any kind of personal retirement account option.
One of the costs of higher education, the faculty, are coming under scrutiny. "Overlooked in the debate," David C. Levy writes in the Washington Post, "are reforms for outmoded employment policies that overcompensate faculty for inefficient teaching schedules."
During his recent trip to Wisconsin, Daniel DiSalvo sat down to discuss his new report, Dues and Deep Pockets: Public-Sector Unions' Money Machine, with David Haynes of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a special segment of "Fourth and State." He outlines the source of public-sector labor unions' unchecked political power and how this provides unions with an unfair edge over other interest groups. Watch the interview below.
Madison, Wisc...] Wisconsin gained 8,300 jobs between January and February this year, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate held at 6.9 percent, down from February 2011′s mark of 7.6 percent.
"Wisconsin's preliminary February unemployment rate remains below 7 percent, the lowest it's been since December of 2008, and well below the national rate," said Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson "In addition, the preliminary monthly estimates indicate continued job growth overall."
Wisconsin added 4,000 private sector jobs in February. This follows January's estimated private sector job growth of 15,700 jobs.
Today, Mother Jones, of all places, exposes what everyone suspected about "Wisconsin for Falk:" it's funded with government union cash:
But David Crane, a California Democrat who served as an adviser on pensions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, reminds us in a recent op-ed why that's simply not true. As Crane notes, the market's recent rise has put the Dow Jones Industrial Average above where it was before the crash in 2008. But pension funds remain seriously underfunded and annual required pension contributions are growing for states, cities and school districts around the country.
On The Wall Street Journal's "Opinion Journal," E.J. McMahon discussed New York's pension deal that Governor Andrew Cuomo struck with unions. He addressed the governor's claims that the reforms were "bold" and "transformational" by describing the non-reforms as nothing more than "significantly incremental." McMahon addressed the premature celebrations from Albany and highlighted some of the points in his recent Newsday article "Don't believe Cuomo's pension hype." Watch the segment below:
UC-Berkeley administration Diane Leite is on the hot seat after it was revealed that a purchasing officer she supervised saw his annual salary nearly triple from just over $40,000 in 2005 to $120,000 in 2010 -- pay increases pushed by Leite at the same time she was having an affair with him.
Property taxes--the main source of revenue for many municipalities--actually kept rising during much of the 2008 and 2009 downturn, reflecting multiyear assessments that still included robust economic years...But collections are starting to plummet. That drop could continue for a while..
The government unions battles across the country to defend unions' privileged bargaining and mandatory union dues protections are coming to a head in Michigan. The state's government unions began a ballot initiative that would place their privileges into the state constitution. Not only would possibly negate a number of laws democratically enacted in recent years, and would empower unelected bureaucrats and union chiefs at the expense of elected officials.
Despite this impending tsunami, however, the CalPERS board seems more concerned with containing the political fallout from the coming crisis than resolving it.
Welcome to New York State's pension reform war.
It began in January, when Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out a so-called Tier 6 pension plan as part of his 2012-13 budget proposal. The plan would retain the existing defined-benefit system while raising the retirement age, increasing employee pension contributions and reducing the benefit level for new employees only.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, 77 of the city's 100 highest paid employees are police officers or firemen, all of whom make over $150,000 a year and many of whom are already retired. The highest paid individual was a retiring police lieutenant who took home over $400,000 in 2011 -- more than half of which was monetized sick leave and vacation time.
The BLS report also revised preliminary numbers from the second half of 2011, which overstated job losses between July and December. Previously, the BLS had reported job losses of 35,600 in the previous six months - today, they reported only 22,700 job losses during that period.
The insolvency of Stockton, Ca., provides a reminder of another big fiscal woe that states and cities are allowing to build up without much in the way of reform, namely the staggering cost of providing retirees with health care for the rest of their lives. Many places like Stockton, which has an astounding $417 million in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care, have done little to set aside funds for this cost and instead have simply been trying to pay the benefit out of their everyday budgets as more and more workers retiree. According to a new accounting by Bloomberg Ranking, among states unfunded liabilities for these so-called other post-employment benefits (other than pensions, that is) now amount to $627 billion.
Critics of California's fiscal turpitude often wonder why the state can't get its arms around its hemorrhaging pension obligations, its perpetually unbalanced budgets, or its endless union giveaways. As it turns out, it's not just a matter of scale. California government can't even get the small things write; small things like not writing tens of thousands of dollars worth of checks to a convicted murderer.
He discussed his recent posts on PublicSectorInc.org regarding Stockton: yet another California city on the brink of bankruptcy. Listen to his segment on KFI AM 640's "John and Ken Show" here.
Exhibit A: The San Diego Unified School District, where the local teachers unions quietly killed a plan to rein in health care costs -- only to see a spiraling budget deficit result in over 1,600 teaching jobs being placed on the chopping block.