New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.
Huh, wonder where we've seen that before. There's more:
The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees’ pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration’s estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers.
I would guess that $132 billion is a conservative estimate, by the way. This change has been a long time coming, much as it was in Wisconsin and elsewhere. To a certain extent, I am sympathetic to the public employees who planned their lives around these benefits, but there's a fundamental question that a commenter at Mitch Berg's blog asked. To wit: is it reasonable to expect private sector workers to have to put off their retirements and keep working until the age of 70 in order to ensure that public sector workers get to retire at the age of 55?
State by state, battle by battle, I think we're getting the answer to that question.