Democrats see pensions as a means of getting people to vote Democrat.
Republicans get workers.
Democrats get voters.
We have an interesting situation in Washington State. The previous pension system for firefighters and police officers has been “over-funded” and has over a billion dollar surplus. Where have you heard that before? It wasn't necessarily that the participants, the state and cities acted responsibly; the participants just tended to die off at fairly youthful ages.
The teacher's pension system is underfunded by over Billions of dollars. The unions negotiated huge increases in their participants benefits and also cut the amount of money participants were required to contribute. How can we expect the poor teachers to contribute their fair share to their pensions? Compounding this problem it turns out that teachers tend to live far long time in retirement as compared to firefighters and police. But state legislators have come up with a simple solution... share the wealth! The state is planning on raiding the firefighter and police pension system and giving the money to the teacher's pension system.
Currently to help keep the current firefighter and police pension system solvent, participants have voted repeatedly to increase their contributions to make up for the state and cities who have repeatedly chosen to cut their contributions. The state and cities claim the current system is again “over-funded”. If the state successfully raids the previous system, my guess is that the sentiment will change on this. The incentive to act responsibly will be gone.
In California the unions successfully negotiated their retirement benefits to the point where their members receive almost twice as much in retirement benefits as police officers and firefighters from Washington. This has created a huge “unfunded liability”. In 2003 their system was solvent, but now the city of Los Angeles alone has a $3 Billion dollar deficit in just current fire fighter and police pensions.
The totals for underfunded pension systems for state and local government employees in California is several hundred Billion dollars. Yet, I have talked to some of these guys before and they seem to have no concern at all that not enough money was paid in by them, the cities and the state to cover their pension benefits. They seem to have no concerns... They think that if their benefits bankrupt the cities or the state that the Federal Government will step in, as they just have in Puerto Rico. The government is again providing a negative incentive to act responsibly.