Wisconsin isn’t the only state to provide an ongoing litmus test of public employee pensions. Across the political spectrum, Californians are “overwhelmingly” in favor of overhauling the pension system, says a University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll released April 25.
Seventy percent of California voters support capping public employee pensions now and in the future; this includes 66 percent of liberals, 71 percent of moderates and 69 percent of conservatives. Among people in unions or union households, almost two-thirds also support the idea.
“I can’t remember an issue that has exploded on the political landscape with the speed and force of the debate over public employee pensions,” says Dan Schnur, a political scientist at the campus and director of the research.
“If Gov. Jerry Brown decided that he was willing to take on the pension issue and a spending cap in order to attract the Republican votes he needs in the legislature, these results show he’d have very strong public support. Democratic legislators don’t like the pension issue any more than Republican legislators like tax increases, but California voters have clearly decided that they’re more comfortable with compromise than their elected representatives,” Mr. Schnur says.
There is also an ethnic divide: 50 percent of white voters support cutting retirement benefits for public employees; 52 percent of Latino voters oppose the idea. Six out of 10 white voters support raising the retirement age for public employees; 52 percent of Latino voters oppose it.