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An article on page 2 of today's (March 29) Wall Street Journal points out that government pension woes, already considered horrible, may actually be worse. The accounting rules for state and local government pensions "make retirement benefit obligations seem lower than they really are," says the Journal. The General Accounting Standards Board, which is the arbiter of such matters, may move toward changes that would increase the pension liabilities that local governments have by tens of billions of dollars, says the Journal. The article quotes Diann Shipione, who blew the whistle on the City of San Diego's pension shell game. "The current pension deficit disclosure standards have been professionally gamed for a long time," Shipione told the Journal. "The [General Accounting Standards Board] is now fighting to create the environment where greater clarity is the result."

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 6:34 p.m.

They should make gov pensions, and budgets play under the exact same rules as the private sector.

It was only last year that future gov healtcare costs had to be put on the books.

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Visduh March 29, 2010 @ 7:36 p.m.

A few years ago, "Ahnold" tried to reform the pension system for state employees in this state. What he was trying to do, sort of, was put public employee retirement in a condition where is was comparable to what most private sector folks get. His ballot initiatives failed miserably. They were so soundly repudiated that I think he just folded completely. That is, he went for the old adage "If you cannot beat them, join them." In the period since that electoral failure, he's made no attempt that I can see to put the state on a solid financial base. So, SurfPuppy, just who is the "they" who "should make gov pensions, and budgets play under the exact same rules as . . .?" Seems as if they, the state's voters said NO to that. Who is "they?" (Who is John Galt?)

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SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 8:05 p.m.

I was not referring to the pensions per se, I was referring to the ACCONTING rules that govern muni pensions and other post employment benefits, such as healthcare. The rules were/are different for private sector and public sector pensions and budgets.

As I stated, muni's were allowed to leave future debts OFF the books until recently.

In the case of leaving retiree healthcare costs off the books-that has never been allowed in a public company. The same was true of pension costs-muni's were allowed to leave future pensions costs OFF the books until a couple of years ago.

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SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 8:10 p.m.

As for Arnold-he has been a total, compelte, 100% failure as gov.

He got spanked very hard on the four 2005 ballot initatives-but instead of getting back up and fighting the good fight he tucked his tail between his skinny little legs and ran for the hills. That is NOT the conduct I had hoped he would exhibit.

All four of those ballot initatives would PASS today-and with flying colors. But Arnold is a wimp. He got beat down by hundreds of millions of $$ in public union money and instead of getting back up and fighting for the people, the poor and the middle class, he folded faster than the local laundry.

I have no respect for the job Arnold has done as gov-none, zero nada.

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Visduh March 29, 2010 @ 8:18 p.m.

The accounting issues just point up the picture that public employee pensions are being overpromised without being adequately funded. This sort of accounting malfeasance is predictable when lavish promises are being made. Later on, the price comes into focus, and it is almost always far higher than was quoted originally.

As to Arnie, he was a sort of walking, talking joke at first. But for a brief period is seemed as if he might really be able to set things right. We now know that he wasn't, and it could be that we'll all look back on this episode in rather cartoonish terms. But, hey, he still LOOKS good, doesn't he?

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Don Bauder March 29, 2010 @ 10:18 p.m.

Response to post #1: Both the accounting and the rules are different in the public sector compared with the private sector. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 29, 2010 @ 10:20 p.m.

Response to post #2: Government employees vote in large numbers. They lobby hard and have cozy relationships with politicians, who are also getting fat pensions. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 29, 2010 @ 10:22 p.m.

Response to post #3: A different accounting board governs the public sector. The private sector has a different accounting board. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 29, 2010 @ 10:23 p.m.

Response to post #4: Many share that opinion of the governator. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 29, 2010 @ 10:25 p.m.

Response to post #5: Can ANYBODY set things right in California? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 11:24 p.m.

Can ANYBODY set things right in California?

Don't know if anyone can fix things-we may have to default before things get fixed.

I do know this-if Whitman, Poinzer or Brown flop like Arnold did-and they all have the potential to, bigtime- our goose is cooked.

This state will not make it through another 4 years of Arnold type gridlock.

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MondoGrapes March 30, 2010 @ 6:03 a.m.

Here in New York we're in the same boat. The local papers have been running regular stories on public employees retiring with pensions of well over $225,000 per year. There was just a piece yesterday that detailed the pension package of the FDNY's number 2 man retiring with a pension worth $242,000 per year. Tax free. I understand that the fire, police, and sanitation departments do dirty work, but that kind of retirement compensation is absolutely ludicrous and will absolutely bankrupt the city.

Response to post #2:

Therein lies the problem with ballot initiatives. The public will not always vote for what's right (civil rights, slavery, women's suffrage, gay marriage). The flip-side extreme to politicians and their corporate masters fleecing us is a clueless public wanting all manner of services like sanitation, police and fire protection, schools, roads and bridges, and not wanting to pay for them. At the heart of this issue lies the argument between a representative republic form of government and direct democracy.

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Don Bauder March 30, 2010 @ 6:53 a.m.

Response to post #11: There are a lot of scholars who feel as you do: California's goose is cooked. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 30, 2010 @ 6:57 a.m.

Response to post #12: Stories of egregious retirements in New York go back decades. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 30, 2010 @ 8:06 a.m.

This is what I was talkign about;

BY GINA CHON Government-pension problems, widely considered bad, may actually be even worse.

That is the assessment of some experts who maintain that the current rules of number crunching for state and local governments make retirement-benefit obligations seem lower than they really are.

Soon, their view may prevail. The accounting board for governments is likely to move toward changes that would increase the pension liability that local governments display on balance sheets by tens of billions of dollars.

If the modifications are approved, many already cash-strapped states and municipalities would likely have to increase the amount they are supposed to pay annually

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703416204575146213238489720.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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Don Bauder March 30, 2010 @ 9:57 a.m.

Response to post #15: Yes, that's the WSJ article I wrote about. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 30, 2010 @ 7:16 p.m.

Oppsss...sorry for poaching your source Don.

Hey-I just saw the BIGGEST yacht I have ever seen in San Diego this afternoon "Ocean Victory".....HUGE.....I am going to post a pic of it on the David Copley thread....

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Don Bauder March 31, 2010 @ 6:51 a.m.

Response to post #17: Yes, I read and responded to those posts. Yes, huge yacht. Best, Don Bauder

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