Pension reform is reform-lite

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More proof that those employed in Massachusetts’ public sector live in a parallel universe: The gentle – very gentle – reforms approved by the state Senate last week to head off a total collapse of the pension system are being portrayed as cruel and unusual punishment.

Take a look at the specifics. The reforms, if adopted, would:

– Raise the retirement age for most employees from 55 to 60.

– Calculate pensions based on the top five earning years instead of the top three.

– Raise the age for maximum retirement benefits from 65 to 67.

And, to offset such draconian pain, the reform would cut contributions for some veteran employees and provide all pensioners with larger cost-of-living increases. Also, this would affect only future employees – not a single one currently employed.

Oh, the horror.

The horror is that the complaints of public employee unions aren’t being laughed out of the Legislature. Especially the one about them “paying for their pensions.” If they did, there would be nothing to talk about. The system would not be $20 billion in the hole.

Especially when the complaints are being led by Democratic Sen. Steven Tolman, soon to be freed from his sacred oath to represent all the people of his district when he resigns to become president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Not that the change will make much difference to Tolman. He has given no evidence of being bound by that oath during his entire tenure.

The horror is that this does not go nearly far enough. The pension fund has $20 billion in unfunded liabilities. These reforms are expected to save $5 billion over the next 30 years. Three decades to address 25 percent of the problem.

The horror is the continued hilarious pandering to the unions by our elected leaders. According to the Globe, Gov. Deval Patrick, “said after the vote that he appreciates that public employees feel under siege …”

Sen. James Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, criticized the reform, saying, “There should be a shared-sacrifice approach.”

It is taxpayers who have been, and continue to be, under siege. How many of them get to retire at 60 with a generous, defined-benefit pension? Yet they have to pay for public employees to get it. It is taxpayers who have been making all the sacrifice. If Eldridge wants some shared sacrifice, he should demand that current employees be covered by the reforms as well as future ones.

This is better than nothing, but not much better. It is obvious that Massachusetts politicians are still owned and controlled by public-employee unions, not the public.