On August 3, the Los Angeles Times ran a surprising story about my hometown. In just five years, the paper notes, L.A. may well be spending a third of its general fund just on pension and other retirement benefits for city employees. That’s right — the cost of their benefits will grow by $800 billion over the next five years, bringing the total retirement benefits paid to retired “civil servants” from the current $1.4 to an astounding $2.2 billion in 2015. The general fund is that part of the total annual budget spent on basic services, such as public safety.
The report was issued by Miguel Santana, City Administrative Officer. Its results mirror what is happening throughout the state, as ever-increasing amounts of money get switched from providing parks, libraries, fire and police protection, and so on, to supporting past government employees. In this respect, the story is not surprising — nobody ever dreamed that L.A. was in better shape than the rest of California.
What is surprising is that the L.A. Times, long the house propaganda organ for the city’s leftist ruling class, is even reporting it. The pension crisis must now be so obvious that the ideologically obtuse Times finally notices.
The culprits in the financial mess — i.e., the public employee unions — cautioned everyone not to overreact (by, say, making all employees henceforth set up private 401k plans, like most ordinary workers do in private industry). The top award for self-serving bullshit goes to Pete Reprovich, greedy director of the L.A. Police Protective League (the cops’ union). He opined, “I highly recommend that we go very slow on this issue. It seems there’s a lot of group-think going on across the state and nation.” The cops, he said, don’t want their pensions “tinkered with.”
Of course they don’t. Their pension and benefits went sky high over the last decade. They don’t want to give up all that stolen loot. No, they undoubtedly want higher taxes on every- one else so they themselves can continue living high.