July 11, 2012

CHANGE: Californians Break With Unions On Pensions.

Voters want to limit and reform the pension system, and proposals like salary caps and a higher retirement age—proposals that public unions consider horrible, unfair barbarities—get solid support from Golden State voters.

To be sure, Californians haven’t embraced the Scott Walker agenda. By and large, they don’t want to make public unions illegal. Further, while there is much less support for raising pensions than there is for cutting them, there isn’t a majority for either position.

Nonetheless, this poll is very bad news for the unions. Their key demands in the pension fight have been resoundingly rejected. Voters want a salary cap for determining benefits, they want to raise the retirement age, and they support a hybrid pension system that mixes in elements of a traditional, defined-contribution plan.

What makes this all very much worse from the unions’ point of view is that if (and when) a truly major and prolonged statewide budget emergency comes, attitudes are likely to harden against them even more. When voters “get” just how much of a tradeoff they face between services for kids and old people vs. paying pensions, then sentiment will likely harden on the pension front. Better schools for your kids, or better pensions for people who taught other peoples’ kids twenty years ago?

Indeed. Meanwhile, in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, the pensions are 100% funded. . . .

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