While one can never get too confident in the reformist promises of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, it seems unlikely that the Democratic chief executive of America's second-largest city would pick a fight with public employees just for sport. And with the City of Angels facing a $220 million budget deficit, Villaraigosa is beginning to talk tough about a substantial increase in the retirement age for the city's new hires.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Villaraigosa is threatening massive (though unspecified) layoffs for city workers if he doesn't get the change he's looking for:
The mayor said he would like to see the retirement age for new employees increased to 67. The retirement age for city employees is currently 60, although those who have worked 30 years can leave with full benefits at age 55, city personnel officials said.
"I've said to our employees, either we get it through the City Council ... or I'm going to put an initiative on the ballot the way they're doing in San Jose, the way they've already done in San Diego and the way they're going to do in cities around the country."Milton Friedman once said, "It's nice to elect the right people, but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things." If the case for public-sector reform becomes so persuasive that even a usually-reliable big government stalwart like Villaraigosa starts to see the handwriting on the wall, it can only mean that we're moving in the right direction.