The state with the biggest pension problem is stumbling toward a solution

Editorial | The Economist — Jerry Brown, aged 73, likes to joke that he is not only California’s governor but also its “best pension buy”. After all, he has spent much of his life in public service (including a first stint as governor from 1975 to 1983), but neither draws a public pension nor plans to, if he can get himself re-elected. Nonetheless, his commitment to fixing California’s daunting public-pension problem has been in doubt. A Democrat, he was elected one year ago in a race against a self-financed Silicon Valley billionaire, largely with the help of independent spending by public-sector unions. The question has been whether he can stare down his own allies, those unions, and pass the necessary reform.

Mr Brown has now released a plan. Initial reactions suggest that he may pass his test: the unions were outraged, many Democratic legislators (often beholden to the unions) felt awkward, and several Republican legislators were supportive. But now everything is in flux, as all parties choose their tactics for the fight.   Continue reading . . .

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