Various groups weigh in on public sector pension debate
The battle over public sector pension plans, though not exclusively aimed at unionized workers, has become a proxy for the most acrimonious debate in recent years on the financial health of state and local governments, and the wages and benefits paid to their employees.
Without doubt, the financial position of the public sector was severely damaged by the Great Recession that began in 2008 and continues in the government sector, even as the rest of the economy begins to recover from its freefall. The question that has emerged from the financial mess is whether public employees are responsible for the crisis or are among its primary casualties.
The debate is vigorous, with both sides parading a stream of figures that prove their point, if one accepts their assumptions. But the analysis of whose assumptions carry more weight is at least as contentious, if not more so, than the numbers themselves. In the past, labor battles were fought with sit-ins and billy clubs. Today, they are fought with press releases and actuaries.
The acrimony leaves observers and academics at think tanks and foundations a bit wistful about where the debate is heading.
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