Monday, July 30, 2007

"I was friends with everybody down there,"

This weekend I went down to Kentucky in search of a preacher. 500 miles down on Saturday and the same back up on Sunday. Long way to go for church.

So I get back and a dog is biting the postman again. Milwaukee County employees and elected officials were caught ripping off taxpayers in yet new creative and apparently illegal ways. If the folks working for Milwaukee County had ever shown half the ingenuity in actually doing their jobs as they did in feathering their own nests, Milwaukee would be the New Eden.

The quote I chose to caption this post was from Bob Ott, the former Corporation Counsel for Milwaukee County who took his and ran. It pretty much sums up the whole mess.

The latest line on the Milwaukee County pension scandals has been to forget it. "The benefits have been paid," people say. "let's move on." Let's start raising taxes and spending again.

But the problem was never just the one-time payouts. It was never even just this type of officially sanctioned theft. Milwaukee County - and governments across the nation - have huge unfunded pension liabilities. You can either tackle social problems or you can arrange for clerks to retire as the functional equivalent of millionaires. It's pretty hard to do both.

2 comments:

grumps said...

Why wasn't Scott Walker working to fix this problem for the last 5 years? I don't live over by you but I thought this was the one issue he promised to fix.

Joe Cisewski said...

Scott Walker has done very little to rectify the pension situation in Milwaukee County.

However, Walker's shortcomings do not justify the continued existence of defined benefit retirement plans.

How about a defined contribution plan with a match? Or, are we still hanging our hat on the argument that there is a problem with retention of government employees?

The current retention issues are more about protecting annuities and health care benefits than addressing an attrition problem.