According to this New Yorker blog post, a federal judge has said Detroit could legally cut the pensions it has already promised to workers as part of its bankruptcy plan, even though the Michigan constitution says the government can’t go back on pension promises. The justification for this decision is that federal law supersedes state law "and, according to Judge Steve W. Rhodes, pension cuts are just fine under federal law."

Retirees who are counting on pensions for their retirement and as a result have no other savings to rely on will be left high and dry if more cities do what Detroit is doing.

According to the Beacon Hill Institute, Massachusetts faces a $23 billion pension liability that is currently unfunded. Cities and towns across the state face billions more in unfunded pension liabilities.

What does our future hold? Are we doing to leave retirees in the lurch, a la Detroit? Or will we act now to implement prudent reforms that allow us to make good on our promises but stop promising more than we have.
 
 
Excellent op-ed by Farah Stockman in today's Boston Globe questioning whether the Boston City Council should approve a 25% pay raise for Boston police over six years:

Here’s a fun fact that didn’t come up in yesterday’s City Council hearing: 141 cops in Boston earned a bigger paycheck than the mayor did last year. That’s right. Mayor Menino earns $175,000. If you count base pay, the Quinn Bill education bonus, details, and overtime, 141 cops earned more.

Another fact: Nearly a third of all Boston police officers earned more than Governor Deval Patrick. The governor earned $137,000 last year. About 600 cops took home more.

No one disputes that police officers, many of whom work long hours and face danger in their jobs, deserve to be well-paid for what they do. But take a good look at police salaries, and you’ll find that they already are.

Boston police officers are among the best-paid public employees, not only in the city, but in the country. Eighty-six earned more than Secretary of State John Kerry. Nine earned more than the vice president. As in, of the United States.


She goes on to note that the average patrolman took home $109,847 in 2012 which is far higher than many Boston residents earn, and to point out what the city will not be able to afford if this pay raise is passed:

If police accepted a 12 percent raise like everybody else, the city would have an extra $71 million over six years to make a game-changing investment in something else. That’s enough to send 7,100 kids to a year of quality preschool, something Marty Walsh called a top priority. Consider that a grant of just $4 million helped turn Orchard Gardens K-8 school from one of the city’s worst schools into one of the best. If police took a 12 percent raise, instead of 25, we could afford 17 more Orchard Gardens. The arbitrator mentioned that police keep us safe, and that safety is the key to prosperity. He’s right. But the highest level of safety and prosperity will be achieved when everyone in this city has a shot at a good education and a job, not just Boston police.