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‘A Lot of Cities Signed Up for Pensions They Can’t Afford’ Says California Gov. Jerry Brown: New at Reason

It’s rare that a politician will say something that is praiseworthy and anger-inducing in the same breath. Nevertheless, Gov. Jerry Brown accomplished that unusual feat when he released his May revised budget, and told cities that the state government isn’t in a position to help them with their soaring pension costs. “They have to handle that themselves,” he explained during a briefing in the state Capitol.
His rationale for refusing to bail out hard-pressed local governments is compelling, concise and worthy of applause: “A lot of cities signed up for pensions they can’t afford.”
Why should taxpayers throughout the state pay more in taxes—or tolerate fewer services or more debt—to help those city governments that were fiscally irresponsible? They knew the risks, ignored the warnings and retroactively boosted pensions by as much as 50 percent over the past 15 years, yet now city officials are complaining about their tough fiscal position.
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