Did Jerry Brown Cause Public Worker Pensions To Get So High That They Could Bankrupt Los Angeles?

As business journalist Mark Lacter reports in the latest issue of Los Angeles magazine, fat pensions doled out by L.A. City Hall cannot stand as-is. Many cops are paid more to do nothing in retirement than what they made as rookies.

At that rate, the city won't be able to pay for the guys and girls actually doing the job (not to mention firefighters, street repair workers and librarians).

But in this campaign season, here's a question often brought up: Who's to blame? A Sacramento Bee article says a benefits upgrade in 1999 allowed pensions to soar. But our commenter du jour, Smurf, blames Jerry Brown and his dealings with unions while he was governor in 1977:

The "problem" started around 1977 when legislation was signed by then-governor Brown, allowing state employees to unionize.

That is when our public servants began to "negotiate" with each other for ludicrous pensions that "spike" in the last year based on the Overtime they deliberately put in to spike the pension.

In 1977, every elected official received the same incentive to raise pensions all around, because they too would benefit. So much for anyone representing us at the table. No one really represents the taxpayers at these negotiations.

Unionized state employees have one incentive: raise benefits at the expense of taxpayers. Retirements at age 50 for UC professors, and CHP officers that may never have been in a gunfight; 100% benefit payments.

It was an untenable system from the start. That was the problem.

For some balance on this, read the Bee.

Who do you think is to blame?


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