The comments, on my latest column, keep coming. I have some responses I’m finishing up now between meetings.

But first, one thing: A couple of weeks ago, I did a post talking about a good forum I had moderated about public employee pensions — most of it had to do with city of San Diego pensions.

Here’s the video of it:

One important note: A commenter in the previous post about this had expressed shock and surprise that one of the panelists, Marcia Fritz, a very determined reformer of California’s public pension systems, had come around to the idea of supporting defined benefit plans for public workers. Fritz serves as the vice president of California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Here was the comment:

I guess I have to believe you, Scott, but having Marcia Fritz supporting a defined benefit plan is something like Rush Limbaugh coming out for bipartisanship. She is a staunch ally of good old Keith Richman, who has been trying for years to turn public employee pensions into 401(k) crapshoots. Maybe her definition of defined pension is similar to that old song about Army pay: $24 dollars a day…once a month!

So I got a chance to see the video and confirm Fritz’s comment. I had asked her plainly if she was, indeed, committed to getting public employees moved onto a defined contribution retirement plan — what would be basically a 401(k).

Initially, back in 2005, I did support moving everybody to a 401(k) statewide merely because I didn’t trust the actuaries. Since then, I’ve studied and gotten to know the situation much better and I’ve changed my mind. I believe a defined benefit plan is a very effective way to maximize benefits to employees with the minimum cost to taxpayers if it’s properly managed if it’s properly governed and if the benefits are sensible. So I do support a defined benefit plan if it’s done properly.

This is what I’m trying to make clear. Things got out of hand. But with the right reforms, taxpayers — even the most ardent critics of government spending — can handle the idea of public employees getting defined retirement benefits.

If you want to save this city, help us get things to a point where employees are reasonably compensated, at a time when thousands are losing their jobs. If you do, the city’s political leaders will be able to step up to the plate and persuade their constituents to implement new increases to revenue streams that are being decimated.

Not that complicated.


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