One of the most important back stories about the current Measure 66 and 67 campaign is how powerful public employee unions have become in Oregon and many other states. Reason magazine features a great article about this here.
And even the long-time liberal Speaker of the California House and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is speaking out:
The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.
But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.
Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.
Either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about it in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I’m kidding, just look at Vallejo.
It’s no wonder that Oregon’s public employee unions are the primary funders of the campaign supporting Measures 66 and 67. They will be the big beneficiaries if the measures pass.
Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.