From the LA Times regarding Gov. Jerry Brown's newly released plan to reduce public sector pension costs:
Even by the most ambitious forecasts, the plan Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats are championing to contain government worker pensions in California could leave state taxpayers awash in debt to public employees.
The governor's plan, announced Tuesday, is unlikely to save cities on the brink of bankruptcy. The relief his proposal would provide to the strained state budget is modest.
Analysts who study the issue say far more aggressive action — including reduction of benefits for hundreds of thousands of current employees left untouched by Brown's proposal — will be needed to get runaway retirement costs under control.
Taxpayers still face the prospect of major bailouts to cover retirement promises made to public employees whether lawmakers pass the plan as expected Friday or not.
...[E]very California household may be on the hook for roughly $23,000 for public retirements over the coming decades. Brown's plan might whittle that tab to $18,000.
"It doesn't solve the problem," said Joe Nation, a former Democratic assemblyman and professor of the practice of public policy at Stanford University. "We still have many, many miles to go."
Brown's negotiations with lawmakers resulted in a more modest plan focused on raising the public retirement age, limiting the annual sums collected by retirees whose jobs paid them six-figure salaries and tinkering with the formulas on which pensions are based.
The leaders' decision not to take any benefits away from workers already on the payroll, however, limited their ability to confront the soaring debt.
"You can't address these problems unless you address the existing liability," said David Crane, who advised former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on pension issues.
"The only way to do that is to go after benefits for existing employees."
An exhaustive study last year by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent oversight agency that reports to the Legislature, warned that pension debt will continue to overwhelm government budgets if benefits for existing workers are not scaled back.
Making changes that affect only new employees, the commission's report said, "will not deliver savings for a generation, while pension costs are swelling now as baby boomers retire.... The promised benefits are unaffordable and leave taxpayers facing all the risk as the bill becomes due."