Editorial: Jerry Brown Keeps Fumbling Pension Reform

While giving him credit for a number of fiscally responsible measures in a recent editorial, the East Bay Times can’t help but notice that Gov. Jerry Brown just keeps bungling pension reform.

“The governor should come clean with the public and truly address California’s mounting retirement debt rather than passing it on to future generations,” the editors write.

That means acknowledging the real shortfall for pensions and retiree health benefits, which is actually far higher than the official $2 billion figure, not even including the debt owed by local governments. It also means pursuing solutions that go far beyond the band-aid fix known as the Pension Reform Act of 2012. As we noted last year, that effort has already fallen flat.

Whenever he tries to fix the problem, Brown finds himself barking unsuccessfully up the labor union tree.

“For the shortfall in state workers’ retiree health care program, Brown has negotiated with labor unions a plan that may or may not pay off the debt over three decades… As for pensions, Brown’s finance director last month negotiated a backroom deal with labor leaders to reduce CalPERS’ dependency on market returns. But it will take seven years to implement and ignores expert advice by continuing to use overly optimistic investment return forecasts.”

The East Bay Times’ message is loud and clear: Governor, quit fumbling the ball!