Edgar: Ease up on public workers

Edgar: Ease up on public workers

Posted by Mike Riopell on Tue, 12/04/2012 - 14:36

Former Gov. Jim Edgar was talkative this morning, first saying he'd likely back state Sen. Kirk Dillard for governor once again.

And on budget issues, he urged voters to go a little easier on the targets of pension cuts. Edgar argues private sector employees often don't realize sacrifices public workers make. (Teachers aren't eligible for Social Security, for example.)

The pension debate has often vilified public employee unions, whose members have contributed to their own retirement accounts right on schedule, unlike state lawmakers.

"They ought to be a little more understanding and maybe not quite as harsh on state workers as they've been," Edgar said.

He emphasizes that the state's struggling systems are maybe even worse-off now than they were now in the 1940s, so any fix is going to take a long time to implement.

Edgar in the mid-1990s signed the law that the state follows now. It was intended to get the pension systems fixed by 2045, but because the amount of money the state has to pay into the retirement systems every year continues to rise sharply under that plan, lawmakers are looking for cuts.

Edgar's point is this is a long-term problem, and a hasty solution probably isn't coming.

"We're talking 20, 30 years it's going to take to get this thing back to where we'd like to have it," he said.

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