The State Worker

Study rates public pension overhauls in other states

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