public pensions

Primal scream therapy may be in order

From Greg David on New York at Crain's:

John Liu and Thomas DiNapoli are the custodians and overseers of the enormous city and state pension funds and the watchdogs over the city and state budgets. So one would think that these two men would be in the forefront of the effort to deal with spiraling pension costs. Unfortunately, think again.

The odd role played by the respective city and state comptrollers should be spotlighted as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg seek very significant changes in pensions in an effort to reduce the cost. New York is already at a disadvantage on this issue to New Jersey, since the courts say New York cannot reduce benefits for current employees, unlike the neighboring state across the Hudson.

Representing the state, Mr. DiNapoli has repeatedly said he won't take part in the "vilification" and "demonization" of public sector workers. At a recent meeting at his law firm, he explained his position by noting that both his father and mother were members of unions and that he was only able to go to college--and become the first in his family to do so--because of the wages and benefits the unions had been able to win for his parents...

Pardon me while I get out my violin.

[....] Mr. DiNapoli's position may not be very important. His cautious approach to using his office's powers on major issues means he is not a major player in the important debates in Albany. Mr. Liu's efforts are important because he is a leading contender for mayor in the 2013 election and a much more energetic player in policy debates.

In the end, both men have failed to confront the key questions. Why should public sector workers have such superior pensions and health benefits to the private sector workers who pay for them? What role do pensions play in forcing the nation-leading tax burden in the state and city? And what economic impact results from that level of taxes?...

Pardon me while I step outside for a moment—and scream.

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