October 13, 2010 at 11:48 AM #18066adminKeymaster
On the ballot up here in Riverside county:
Shall the proposed Ordinance, requiring voter approval for increases or decreases in public safety employee retirement or pre-retirement death benefits and requiring that the County of Riverside continue the current CALPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System) retirement formula, be adopted?
Public pensions are a crucial financial issue for Riverside County, which offers some of the most lucrative benefits in the state. Public safety workers can retire at age 50 with a pension worth up to 90 percent of their salary. County rules allow manipulations that can increase pension payouts to 97 to 98 percent of salary.
That largesse comes at a huge cost to taxpayers. The county’s pension obligations have soared by 50 percent in the past five years, to more than $6 billion over the next three decades. And the county is $800 million short of funding to cover that cost. The growing expense of pensions threatens a huge drain of tax money away from public services.
Backers of Measure L — primarily the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association — argue the measure would give voters a say in setting pension levels. And they say Measure L would safeguard benefits offered to the widows and orphans of police and firefighters.
But those issues are red herrings, meant to distract voters from the central motive of this initiative: blocking any effort to curb the unsustainable cost of public safety pensions. Requiring an election adds time and expense to any attempt to cut the rising price of public safety pensions — which serves union interests, not taxpayers. Nor are death benefits in danger. Those benefits are not the central fiscal concern anyway; the issue is lavish retirement payouts that continue for decades.
A sleaze tactic by public employees to lock-in their lucrative pensions at the expense of future generations.
Careful what you vote for.
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