Brown’s own allies are his biggest foes in pension reform fight

From the SJ Mercury:

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown turned the Capitol upside down Thursday when he unveiled his sweeping plan to overhaul California’s pension system.

Republicans and business leaders loved it. The governor’s natural allies — public employee unions — hated it and could very well kill it.

“It’s quite possible for labor to shut the whole thing down,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “The question is whether they just say no or they’re willing to compromise.”

Proposals to require state workers to pay more into their pensions and retire a lot later were just a couple of proposals labor leaders said were non-starters, particularly in light of earlier collective bargaining agreements to increase state workers’ pension contributions from 5 percent to as much as 11 percent of their salary.

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Occupy L.A.: Ending the occupation

From LA Times:

City leaders put out the welcome mat for Occupy L.A. protesters. Now they may be sorry they did so.

Right about now, we suspect City Council President Eric Garcetti is regretting telling protesters with the Occupy Los Angeles movement camping outside City Hall that they were welcome to “stay as long as you need to.” And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa might be rethinking his decision to hand out ponchos when the weather turned wet. It’s even possible (though unlikely) that Councilman Richard Alarcon is thinking twice about pandering to the movement by using it as an excuse to resurrect his misguided proposal to shift L.A. funds to community-oriented financial institutions, a move that could cost the city at least $58 million.

Four weeks after protesters converged on the Civic Center, they are wearing out their welcome. Even some of the city’s most liberal politicians, who initially embraced them, are trying to figure out a graceful way of getting them to go home.

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Coulter: ‘Liberals Are Terrified of Herman Cain’


From CNS News:

Before the sun came up on Monday, Herman Cain had not yet commented on Politico’s “exclusive” report that he sexually harassed two female employees of the National Restaurant Association, which the married Cain headed in the 1990s.

Cain briefly told a reporter on Sunday he would not comment on a report that didn’t even name the people who are accusing him.

But at least one conservative came to Cain’s defense Sunday night.

Ann Coulter, appearing on Geraldo Rivera’s “Geraldo at Large” on Fox News, described herself as “spitting mad” about “this attack on Herman Cain.”

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CA Bullet Train Woes: cost estimates rise to $98.5 billion

From the LA Times:

California’s bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5 billion to build over the next 22 years, a price nearly double any previous projection and one likely to trigger political sticker shock, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday.

In a key change, the state has decided to stretch out the construction schedule by 13 years, completing the Southern California-to-Bay Area high speed rail in 2033 rather than 2020.

The delay allows inflation to drive up the price over the additional years of construction.

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Brown’s pension plan provides some hope, but has critics

From the Contra Costa Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s new pension reform plan signals he’s serious about restoring fiscal sanity to public employee retirement systems, but it lacks critical details and doesn’t stop the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars of debt to our children.

Let’s give Brown credit: He finally demonstrated understanding that “we’re not on a sustainable path” and that taxpayers need financial protection as well as workers. What he proposed Thursday provides a minimum starting point for discussion.

After he unveiled his plan, many focused on the changes affecting new employees: mixing conventional pensions with Social Security and 401(k)-style retirement savings to reduce taxpayer exposure to market volatility; targeting pension payments to a reasonable 75 percent of salary; increasing retirement ages; and reducing pension spiking.

All good, and essential, ideas. But changes for new employees won’t provide substantial financial relief for decades.

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Cap-and-trade is expensive fraud


Thank you for printing Sen. Doug LaMalfa‘s remarks about the latest liberal flogging of the industrial/automotive emissions reality in the Sunday editorial, “Cap-and-trade is a high-stakes bet on state’s future.”

Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols apparently hasn’t been looking at the collapse of the U.N.-mediated global warming pseudo-scientific fraud when she said:

“Cap-and-Trade is another important building block in California’s effort to create a clean and vibrant economy. … It sends the right policy signal to the market, and guarantees that California will continue to attract the lion’s share of investment in clean technology. When the nation addresses the growing danger of climate change, as I believe it must and will, California’s climate plan will serve as a model for a national program.”

No, Mary, how many Solyndras must we suffer? You need to read the Washington Examiner’s Oct. 23 Op-Ed contribution by Marc Morano, “Scientific case for man-made global warming fears is dead.” He documents his assertion with facts.

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Brown’s pension plan leaves out CalSTRS

From the Sac Bee:

What about CalSTRS?

Despite two years of lobbying from the teachers’ retirement fund, a plan to shore up CalSTRS’ finances was missing from Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension reform proposal this week.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System faces a long-term shortfall of $56 billion – the gap between assets and estimated liabilities. The fund has been quietly pushing a plan to increase taxpayer contributions, and has stepped up its campaign in recent weeks.

Chief Executive Jack Ehnes, in a letter Tuesday to legislators, asked them to “give special consideration to a long-term funding strategy to protect our teachers’ retirements.”

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Income Tax Cuts Would Boost Jobs and Growth

From Townhall:

The modest uptick in economic growth is a welcomed breather in the bleak Obama economy, but it won’t reduce unemployment anytime soon.

The Commerce Department’s report Thursday that the gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the economy’s performance, grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent. It means the economy is still weak — far from the 3.5 percent to 5 percent growth needed to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work.

The government’s estimate, and that’s what it really is, will be revised at least twice in the months to come and it may well be less than 2.5. But, whatever the real rate may be, economists aren’t expecting GDP to take off in the last three months of this year or next year, either.

“We are looking at very disappointing growth over the next year. It will be far short of what is needed to get businesses to hire more aggressively,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

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The Pension Follies of the Mayor Who Broke LA

From City Watch LA:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, by failing to adequately address the unrealistic 8% Investment Rate Assumption for the 40% underfunded Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System, is making another boneheaded decision that reflects the unwillingness of Villaraigosa and the Garcetti-led City Council to make hardnosed, long term rational operational and financial budget balancing decisions for fear of alienating the City’s self-serving, campaign funding union bosses.   
And once again, this short sighted, politically motivated decision regarding LACERS will penalize the wallets of the next generation of Angelenos, even if the economy improves. 

Shortsightedness at City Hall is such an everyday occurrence that our Elected Elite now commonly refer to it as “kicking the can down the road.”  

In this particular case, involving LACERS and its $5.9 billion unfunded pension liability, the actuary once again recommended that the Investment Rate Assumption be lowered from 8% to 7.75%, the same rate used by the Fire and Police Pension Plans that is “only” 32% underfunded.

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L.A. should not play bank regulator

From the LA Times:

Even though it faces a budget gap of $200 million or more in the coming year, the L.A. City Council is considering a “responsible banking” ordinance that could raise its costs and reduce the income its investments generate. Why? Because some council members want to judge the banks and securities firms the city does business with in a new way — not by the value of the services they provide but by how well they perform on a series of poorly drawn tests of local service. Do we really have to say that’s not a good idea?

The idea comes from Councilman Richard Alarcon, who argued in the Huffington Post last year that cities should channel their “outrage” at the banks into a “cultural shift.” Rather than focusing on short-term gains, Alarcon wrote, local governments should try to produce more long-term growth “by investing our funds in economic growth opportunities that directly impact our communities.” His proposal languished for more than a year, but it gained new life this month as protesters aligned with Occupy Wall Street camped out on the City Hall lawn.

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