Mark Meuser, a Republican running against Mark DeSaulnier chimed in with a comment on yesterday’s Contra Costa Times editorial. I like Mark, I’ve spoken to him several times, but he really did put his foot in his mouth on this one.
His comment stated the following:
Well written article. I agree that we need to solve the problem before we come to the people and ask the taxpayers to pay more. People are having a hard enough time balancing their own budget. Instead of trying to tax everyone more, we need to find private sector jobs for our work force so that they can be productive tax paying members of society.
The unfunded pension liability is draining the tax money that the citizens are paying. I believe that there are 84 former employees of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District receiving pensions of greater than $100,000. This is just an indication of how our government has made promises to its employees that is now costing the present generation of employees. Rather than being able to spend our limited taxable income on current employees, a large portion of our taxable income is being spent on these former employees and their benefits. Government cannot afford to do funny math, we must be able to pay for pension benefits in the year that we receive the benefit of the employees work. It is time for pension reform and once you do that, then we can come back to the table and discuss whether tax increases is even necessary.
A couple of things:
Mr. Meuser is mixing districts so its like comparing apples to oranges. He is talking about Contra Costa County, not talking specifically about East Contra Costa County. The abuse of pensions he is referring to is the list of about 600+ Contra Costa County employees where I admit that most of the abuse comes from San Ramon and Orinda-Moraga Fire–but they also pay more for their Fire so it balances itself out. It should be noted that no ECCFPD firefighters are on that list, that is right, ZERO which means our District do not abuse it as some may claim.
If Mr. Meuser is serious about representing the District in the state, then I would urge him to not make the argument about pensions, but rather start realizing the solution is fixing the allocation of funding which is where Prop 13 has handicapped this District–meaning we are being funded like a rural area as opposed to being funded like a urban city.
Since Mr. Meuser has taken a position, I’d encourage him to come down to any ECCFPD station and chat with the firefighters, maybe meet with the Chief, sit down with Mr. Wells or Gill Guerrero or even a fire board member.