Tweet if You Love Pension Reform

Marcia Fritz
CPA and President of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility

Remember the days when decisions on public policy issues were based on a thoughtful analysis of the facts?

Neither do I.

But it might be fun to try.  Follow @FixPensions. Take 10 seconds to consider the information on your screen and another 10 seconds to share it.  Twitter will take care of the rest.

The legislature has until June 28 to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to require public employees to pay half the cost of their pensions, link state retirement ages with federal retirement ages and provide retirement plans to future employees that share the risk of investment losses with taxpayers.

Benefits for retirees and current employees are not affected.

That’s the core of the plan proposed by Governor Brown and the Little Hoover Commission.  Republicans said they wouldn’t change a word.

Spiking, double-dipping, pension holidays, airtime and other expensive mistakes can be fixed by the legislature before it adjourns.

To make sure they don’t forget, FixPensionsFirst.com will send out daily “e-minders”— facts from government, academic and media sources that remind voters how pension costs affect the services they receive from the state and local governments. Here’s one from the LAO.

Bitter medicine is best administered in small doses.  Follow @FixPensions and you’ll get daily e-minders — graphic depictions of problems with state and local pension systems including:

  • Huge shortfalls that divert scarce budget resources at every level of state and local government;
  • Benefits that are exorbitant for some, outrageous for others, but reasonable for many, including teachers;
  • Spiking, double-dipping, airtime, pension holidays and other abuses created and tolerated by the state legislature.

All sources are cited and made available on www.FixPensionsFirst.com.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Follow@FixPensions on Twitter;
  2. Forward e-minders to anyone who pays taxes or cares about state and local budgets;
  3. Repeat.

Pretty simple.

What’s not so simple is reaching enough voters to make a difference in a few short weeks.  I like our chances if business, taxpayer and constituent groups get involved.  If they don’t, I don’t.

Just in case, we’ve got some fun and games planned for the next few weeks, including the “Robert Rizzo Scam of the Year,” an infographic contest and the requisite YouTube music video, which asks the legislature, “Watcha Gonna Do?”

For the academically and journalistically inclined, an online discussion forum will give reporters, public officials and voters the opportunity to hear from all sides.  For those who crave instant gratification, we’ll follow each discussion with an online poll.  Here are the first three topics:

  • Should government employees pay half the cost of their pensions?
  • Watcha gonna do about a half-trillion dollars in pension debt?
  • Do public pension costs kill private sector jobs?

With taxes and paycheck protection waiting in the wings, who knows what might happen?  Look at the bright side.  It’s all over on June 28.

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