Another Article on How Decision-Makers Use Revenue Troubles to Cover Not Making Tough Choices in Past

This time, from Politico's "Pols turn on labor unions."  And this time, what I consider to be the most clear pronouncement of the truth:
The new focus on public workers is the product of a perfect storm of anti-labor factors.
First are the very real financial obligations imposed by their salaries, health benefits and—especially—their traditional, defined-benefit pension plans, which have been sweetened over the years in many states by legislators eager for the support of politically-powerful unions. This is particularly true in the northern and western states that allow public workers to organize. A recent study from the Pew Center on the States found that states are short $1 trillion toward the $3.35 trillion in pension, health care and other retirement benefits states have promised their current and retired workers, the product of a combination of political decisions and the recent recession.
But the immediate cause of the new spotlight on public sector unions is the collapse in tax revenues that came with the 2008 Wall Street crash, something that union leaders bitterly note is not their fault. [emphasis added]
In Pepper Pike, there is a great deal of debate over how to prioritize and right-size the salaries and benefits of our employees, given our needs, our desires and our revenues - including both our affluence and our losses. And that is why I am anxious for the finance review committee composed of seven residents and a council liaison to provide information and its recommendations based on that information to the City.


Jason Haas said...

Hmm. One thing not discussed in your excerpt (but perhaps in the full story) is the changing composition of legislative bodies. D, R, or otherwise, many people elected in the past 5 years have little or no fealty to labor unions, see the financial troubles in front of their faces, and know what needs to be done. Those folks, imo, have no need to cover past choices they didn't make. Indeed, they should be applauded for making tough ones now - irrespective of who gets worked up over the results.

Jill said...

Bingo - totally completely agree. That is exactly what I've faced as I've voted no on things that the council members who've been there for two or more decades have wanted. We all get how when the city was flush, they didn't put money away for a reserve and they were generous - they, were, generous. And they never prepared for the worst - only for the best case scenario. It's little solace to look around and see how many other places, far less fortunate than Pepper Pike, have to suffer through all this - and their employees. It is absolutely wretched to know what you are doing to people's salaries and livelihoods that they've come to depend on. But you are right - not being with the Council at the times when they felt able to make choices that led to the consequences we're now facing makes it easier to say, "Consequences - they are real - we MUST consider them NOW."

It is really really REALLY unpopular to do that, I knew before I did it and know even more since I've been doing it.

Having a committee make recommendations is fine and all - but they don't report back and vote for the fiscal health of 6000 people. The buck does not stop with them, and that does change an awful lot.

(And damn - I still owe you an email!)