Thursday, September 15, 2011

Governor going after state employees ...again.

[Note:  Yes, I know I've been a little slack in updating the blog. Chalk it up to selling a house (sort of), buying a house, sloth, an earthquake, a hurricane and other writing projects. I promise to be more diligent. Until I'm not.]

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced this week that state employee retirement benefits might need to be cut, because the system has $18 billion in unfunded liabilities.

He's right about the unfunded liability. Over the next 75 years it does total $18 billion.

But that's not the state employees' fault.

McDonnell has done little to endear himself to state employees. Last year he pushed a measure to require them to pick up part of their own retirement costs.

That doesn't sound unreasonable on the face of it. Why shouldn't they pick up part of the cost? But the way McDonnell structured his proposal, it would have cut the take home pay of every state employee. The General Assembly intervened and gave state employees a pay raise sufficient to offset the retirement contribution. That was in line with the original deal which led to the state picking up the employees' contribution -- it was done in lieu of a raise.

The legislature showed much better common sense and a greater sense of justice than the governor on this issue.

It's odd that McDonnell, who doesn't have the reflexive anti-government instincts of a lot of Republicans -- former governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore for instance -- would be taking another swing at state employees.

Maybe McDonnell, recently chosen to lead the Republican Governor's Association, feels he need to do it to have some street cred with his peers. From Scott Walker in Wisconsin to Rick Scott in Florida to Chris Christie in New Jersey, it seems like wherever you have a new Republican governor these days, he's at war with his state employees.

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