Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Real Reform or Political Ploy?

Governor Patrick announced yesterday that he was filing a pension reform bill that would cap public pensions and raise the minimum retirement age for state employees. According to the State House News Service, the bill also calls for pro-rating pension benefits to prevent employees from gaming the system to secure inflated pension benefits, and extends the recent ban on “Section 10” early retirement incentives to all government employees, not just elected officials.

The governor’s proposal is hardly ground-breaking. In fact, many of the provisions contained in the bill have been championed by House and Senate Republicans for some time now, but the governor is just getting around to embracing them.

The question now is, is Governor Patrick really serious about reform, or is this just another empty campaign promise? After all, this is the same governor who promised to deliver property tax relief to the voters during his 2006 campaign and then proceeded to implement some of the biggest tax and fee increases in the state’s history.

The governor claims his bill will save the state $2 billion … over 30 years that is. Meanwhile, a $3 billion structural deficit is looming in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, which demands immediate attention. We’re waiting to see if the governor has any plan to address this gaping financial hole when he releases his new budget later today. But given his track record – all talk, no action – we’re not going to be holding our breaths waiting.