The cost of pensions: decrepit cities and not just huge debt

Many people’s eyes still glaze over when I talk about unfunded pension liabilities. Often I see people looking at their watches and trying to figure out an exit plan at the mere mention of the name, California Public Employee’s Retirement System (CalPERS). But average folks …

Pension reformers facing declining options in California

The union activists who dislike my views on the pension-reform topic reportedly were pleased with a recent Public Sector Inc. post I wrote facetiously calling for pension reformers to give up the ghost. The state desperately needs reform, but what are we going to do …

Despite love of ideas, Brown is conventional union pol

From a personality standpoint, California Gov. Jerry Brown is one of the most entertaining, intelligent and engaging politicians one will ever meet. He’s funny and well read and likes to toss around interesting ideas. His fans boast about his Jesuit training. One need only listen …

Pensions: When you can’t trust the trustees

Last week the board of trustees of Calpers, dominated by six beneficiaries of the pension fund, voted to essentially undue some of Jerry Brown’s modest 2012 pension reforms with their liberal interpretation of the new rules. I have a piece in the LA Times today describing how this is not just a California problem. Many pension funds are directed by boards dominated by beneficiaries…

Has Cuomo split the labor movement?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is coasting to reelection with only partial support from organized labor. While many private unions remain in his corner, the state’s major government unions are either declining to support Cuomo’s bid for a second term or have endorsed …

Shouldn’t New Jersey be thinking about taking over Atlantic City?

One of the most under-appreciated causes for municipal fiscal distress is state officials’ deep reluctance to get involved. As a legal matter, nothing’s stopping them, but governors and legislatures see little in it for themselves in taking over a distressed city. They put off intervening …

Did the UFT leadership go too far with Sharpton?

Al Sharpton’s rally on Staten Island this weekend to protest Eric Garner’s death due to a police choke-hold came and went peacefully. But the rally laid bare significant divisions between members of the United Federation of Teachers and the union’s leadership as well as tensions …

Blue Repudiation in Connecticut?

In November, Connecticut will hold a referendum on the first Democratic governor to lead the state in two decades. What do the state’s voters think about one-party rule? Judging from the unpopularity of Gov. Dannel Malloy, most seem interested in an alternative to the status …

Does democracy cause pension mismanagement?

Red states’ pension management records can be just as irresponsible as blue states’, to be sure. But a new paper suggests that the real threat may come from purple America. The University of Michigan’s Sutirtha Bagchi lays out a carefully quantified case that fiscal irresponsibility stems …

A look ahead at the 2014 elections

With party polarization preventing action at the national level, especially for the last two years of the Obama presidency, the action of American government will continue to be at the state and local level.
There are a number of races this fall with big implications for …