Saturday, May 09, 2009

Public sector pensions....

I know I've spoken to a number of folks at work about the coming bubble in public sector pensions. I've probably also mentioned it in a post or two here, but haven't put in a label to help me find them (fixed now).

But anyway, the public sector is in real trouble. They (we?) are being buried by the obligations for the pensions promised to their employees. In fact, these pensions have been over-promised, and with the fall of the market in which these pensions have been invested, under-delivered.

Vallejo, California is in bankruptcy. George Will obliquely notes that when the Navy closed a facility there, the revenues to the city went down, but the pension obligations did not. I read recently that their median firefighter income was nearly three times that of the median income of a Vallejo resident.
"...An independent citizens’ group, citing information obtained from city payroll records, demonstrated that the median income of a uniformed Vallejo Fire Department official in 2006 topped $157,000, while the median income of Vallejo residents sat around $54,000. The top-paid fire department employee’s W-2 form reported a whopping $359,000 in gross income during his last year of employment, a figure that would appear to guarantee a pension wage equal to or greater than the average enjoyed by his still-working former colleagues...."
California, of course, is itself in budget trouble.

And, here, we see that as part of their reactions to this budget trouble, California is going to let go "nearly 2000 firefighters".
"...About $81 million would be slashed from Cal-Fire's budget, eliminating more than 600 full-time and 1,100 seasonal firefighting positions -- no doubt it will slow response time...."
So, to put two and two together, firefighters are being let go, and those that remain are seeing pressure to their (over-promised and under-delivered) retirement plans.

One has to believe that the police and firefighter forces across the country will have similar issues.

So when the economy continues to tank (as I think it will), when you make that call to 911, will anyone be there to answer?

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