The superficial aspects – anecdotal accounts of outrageous pension manipulation – have received the most media attention. Meanwhile, the more meaningful issue of whether taxpayers and employees face a ticking time bomb of unfunded liabilities is complex and unsexy, receiving relatively little attention.
For the most part, Brown's plan deals with the former rather than the latter. It gives the illusion of being tough on pension issues without making truly tough choices.
Much of it deals, for instance, with "pension spiking" through various manipulative techniques – outrageous, certainly, but of little effect on the larger and more serious issue. Other points are of equally light weight, such as prohibiting retroactive pension benefits or pensions for convicted felons.
Meanwhile, the plan either omits anything that would touch the larger issue of unfunded liability or places it in the category of "under development."
Dan Walters, the Sacramento Bee's top state government columnist and certainly no conservative, says Jerry Brown's pension plan is nothing but fluff: