Public Pensions Put State, Cities in Crisis

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Author: Tom Abate

07/25/2010 - The recent layoff of 80 police officers in Oakland could be the harbinger of things to come as government officials find that public employee pension deals made when the stock market was booming are helping bust their budgets today.

"It's regrettable, but we had no choice," said City Council President Jane Brunner of the layoffs that were Oakland's response to a growing public pension crisis.

Forced to make a $30.5 million budget cut - Brunner said that's more than the city's discretionary spending - Oakland had asked police officers to pay 9 percent of their salaries toward their pensions and accept a later retirement age for new hires.

Dom Arotzarena of the Oakland Police Officers Association said his members would have agreed to the pension givebacks but wanted a three-year, no-layoff pledge in return.

City officials refused and cut about one-tenth of the city's uniformed officers instead.


"Everybody was raising benefits without thinking of the long term," said Kil Huh, director of research for the Pew Center on the States, which recently surveyed this nationwide problem.

Read the full article, Public Pensions Put State, Cities in Crisis on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site.

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