Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where’s Texas?

The doom-and-gloom naysayers of public employee pensions got more ink last week in the Wall Street Journal.  The story was “Hard Times Spread for Cities: Rising health, pension costs top the list as municipalities struggle to recover from the recession,” and was written by three WSJ staffers, Kris Maher, Bobby White and Valerie Bauerlein.

Do a search for the word “Texas” and once again you’ll find our great state is nowhere mentioned in the story.

Now, we have no doubt the journalists did their job in thoroughly investigating situations they recount in California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Missouri, where cities are struggling with pension costs or looking to raise taxes to support other services.
But these trouble cases have been all the media rage over the last few years. They usually follow mismanagement by politicians over years and decades. And they seem to be more the exception the rule.

It’s been our wish over the years that every story like this would include a quote from someone that knew about the overall health of the public employee pension system in Texas. If they would, the story might include a paragraph that would say something like “‘We’re not having the same problems in Texas, where a system of checks and balances tend to keep pension contributions in balance over time,’ said Max Patterson, the executive director of an association of local pensions across Texas.”

Somehow, I don’t think we ever will, but it is the truth, and it would add some fairness and balance to every story like the one that appeared in the WSJ. – Max Patterson

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