The State Worker

Jon Ortiz chronicles civil-service life for California state workers

Study rates public pension overhauls in other states

02/26/2014 10:52 AM

02/26/2014 11:34 AM

Public pension-change efforts in states that have rolled back benefits share some common characteristics, according to a paper issued today by the influential Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

“Pension Politics” by Drew University political science and education professor Patrick McGuinn, reviews recent public pension overhauls in Utah, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Illinois and highlights what worked and what didn’t and why. Among the winning strategies: having “a credible and visible reform champion” and selling “the benefits of pension reform to state workers” and “school reformers.”

That made us think of what’s going on in California. The latest push for a pension initiative here has a face, Democratic San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, leading the latest charge for a plan he says will save public pension systems and preserve money for crucial state and local services. He sought support from unions, which accused him of posturing instead of seriously seeking their counsel. It looks like the measure won’t be on the November ballot since Reed is losing time to collect qualifying signatures while he sues the state over summary language assigned to his measure.

Here’s the McGuinn study:

Pension Politics

About This Blog

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at or 916-321-1043. Twitter: @TheStateWorker.


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