by Warner Todd Huston | August 21, 2010 12:00 pm
Like most bills, the legislation meant to reform California’s failing public pension system started out stronger than it ended up. But unlike most bills the final bill has been so gutted, so defanged, that it leaves the pension system in a worse mess than it was when the bill was introduced. Not surprisingly unions are the culprits.
One of the things that the bill was supposed to stop was the practice of “pension spiking.” This is the practice of government workers getting a sudden raise in position, salary and benefits just as they are about to retire. This sudden raise, often instituted only weeks or months before retirement, allows the employee to retire at a higher pension rate than they would have with their last, normal salary.
Unfortunately, the latest amendments to the bill reverses that prohibition in various ways by giving unions even more categories by which to “spike” pensions. The whole purpose of the bill has been subverted by union lobbyists and pliant politicians. In fact, spiking is now open to all union members whereas before it was just the higher-ups and management types that were able to get away with it.
With the bill as it stands now pensions can be spiked by taking the state to court to add uniform allowances, classes and education, shift differentials, vacation and unused sick time, and other categories all of which might be able to be added to a retiring employee’s final pay in order to boost his pension.
If California were truly interested in reform all of these extraneous modes of compensation would be inadmissible as criteria to calculate pensions. The only legitimate criteria should simply be the employee’s regular pay, not all the goodies, giveaways, back room deals, taxpayer ripoffs and buddy-buddy payoffs that union lobbyists have convinced politicians greedy for campaign donations to give them.
Unfortunately, this is not happening with this bill.
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