PEN­SION DI­MEN­SION

The Washington Times Weekly - - Pol­i­tics -

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.

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