Is the Legislature Making Pension Crisis Worse?

The tens of billions in unfunded California pension obligations (that's tens of billions if we're lucky; hundreds of billions if we're not) are a hot topic today, with various politicians and groups offering reform proposals for the crisis.

But the legislature is busy making the crisis worse.

So argues Steven Greenhut, a libertarian commentator who has made the pension crisis a focus of his work.

In the Orange County Register, Greenhurt explains how the legislature has made it harder to deal with the crisis. One bill, just revived, would make it next to impossible for cities to get out of pension obligations by declaring bankruptcy. A bill to prevent so-called pension "spiking" by employees, who lard up their last year's pay to boost their pensions, has been gutted and turned into a bill that might make pensions even more costly.

Perhaps worst of all. Greenhut notes that the legislature recently "approved a bill that would expand the cancer "presumption" for certain classes of government employee – meaning that if retirees get any sort of cancer a decade or more after retiring that it is presumed to be caused by their job, which opens up yet another storehouse of taxpayer funds and further burdens a faltering debt-soaked system."

That's right -- if the cop at the station down the street smokes his way into lung cancer, that's the taxpayer's fault and responsibility.

Wise supporters of labor need to block these bills and get reform -- or face a backlash against public employees that could upend good public policy along with the bad.

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