Keep in mind that Jerry Brown CAUSED this problem of out of control public pensions and benefits by allowing public employees to unionize.
Unionized against the people, is what it was, as it allowed corrupt politicians to buy the votes of the public employees using tax money to gold plate their pay and/or benefits. The taxpayers, the folk who earned that money through hard work and risk, are left holding the bag. That is the real crime committed here, by Jerry Brown during his first term, and his political party. Even FDR was against unionization of public employees for this very reason.
Example: a guy I work with knows two retired sheriffs, married to each other and both of whom are relatively young. Their retirement pays them over 200k, between them, with lifetime medical. They have trouble finding a way to spend the tsunami of money coming to them, and are a bit embarrassed by their shocking wealth.
Another example: a working LA county sheriff is assigned to harbor patrol, and he spends his days riding a boat around and giving pleasure boaters tickets. He works part time, and on his off weeks, flies back to the Carolinas (!!!) where he owns a house on the water, with dock and boat. Sweet, but 100% paid for by the California taxpayers, who aren't living on the water with a dock and boat.
For decades now public pensions have been guided by one universal rule which stipulates that current public employees can not be 'financially injured' by having their future benefits reduced. On the other hand, that 'universal rule' also necessarily stipulates that taxpayers can be absolutely steamrolled by whatever tax hikes are necessary to fulfill the bloated pension benefits that unions promise themselves.
Alas, that one 'universal rule' may finally be at risk as the California Supreme Court is currently considering a case which could determine whether taxpayers have an unlimited obligation to simply fork over whatever pension benefits are demanded of them or whether there is some "reasonableness" test that must be applied. Here's more from VC Star:
At issue is the "California Rule," which dates to court rulings beginning in 1947. It says workers enter a contract with their employer on their first day of work, entitling them to retirement benefits that can never be diminished unless replaced with similar benefits.
It's widely accepted that retirement benefits linked to work already performed cannot be touched. But the California Rule is controversial because it prohibits even prospective changes for work the employee has not yet done.
The ballooning expenses are an issue that Gov. Jerry Brown will face in his final year in office despite his earlier efforts to reform the state's pension systems and pay down massive unfunded liabilities.
His office has taken the unusual step of arguing one case itself, pushing aside Attorney General Xavier Becerra and making a forceful pitch for the Legislature's right to limit benefits.
"Lots of people in the pension community are paying attention to these cases and are really interested in what the California Supreme Court is going to do here," said Amy Monahan, a University of Minnesota professor who studies pension law.
"For years, self-interested parties, overly generous promises whose true costs were often shrouded by flawed actuarial analyses, and failures of public leadership had caused unsustainable public pension liabilities," his office wrote. A ruling is expected before Brown leaves office in January 2019.