Cities and local governments are far from immune when it comes to state policies. Some of the most dangerous and irresponsible local actions mirrored state-level positions. Those have at least once city crying ‘uncle.’
In an opinion article, Stockton Record Columnist Michael Fitzgerald says that Stockton is in bankruptcy court partially as a result of poor decision-making at the state level. Pointing generally at SB 400, Fitzgerald argues that in addition to increasing public employee pensions at the state level, giving local governments the ability to expand pension created a bidding war. Stockton then slept in the bed made by the legislature and started bidding too.
Clearly not exonerated from their own responsibility are the city’s leaders. They did what they felt necessary to recruit and retain talent, but Fitzgerald contends that such an environment never should have been allowed to exist in the first place.
Compounding the situation is last week’s pension reform, which the author opines was far from what the state, or cities needed. It didn’t address healthcare benefits, won’t affect current employee pensions, and is a shell of the 12-point plan presented by the Governor and supported by Stockton city manager Bob Deis.
In Stockton, the unfunded liability for healthcare benefits is estimated to be $417 million. At the state level, they contribute to the near-half trillion-dollar liability. And along with a 401(k)-hybrid, healthcare was decidedly absent from the final proposal approved hastily on Friday.
Read the full opinion at the Record Net.