Friday, May 04, 2012
Martinez Administration's Latest attack on State Employees and Teachers
In Latest Attack, Governor Martinez Suggests "Drastic Changes" For Public Employee Pensions
See Independent Source PAC for complete article with additional links:
During a presentation by Pension Fund officials that was supposed to be about ways to routinely keep these funds solvent, Martinez fueled the political rhetoric by stating it was "impossible" for the pension fund to remain solvent without "drastic changes."
The Governor called on her favorite ‘attack General,’ Finance Board member Robert Aragon, to provide a preview of the Martinez Administration’s 2013 strategy to further vilify public employees, whether they be state workers or teachers.
In a manner reminiscent of the December 20, 2011, State Finance Board meeting during which Martinez and Aragon personally orchestrated the final step in awarding of a rigged contract worth over a Billion dollars for her campaign contributors from Louisiana, Aragon once again took the starring role suggesting at various times, in a rambling diatribe, that the retirement system in New Mexico was ‘immoral’ and ‘unethical.’
He also claimed that payments into the system by the employer, the state, were draining money from the classroom, ignoring the arguments of the retirement fund representative that such payments are part of the cost of classroom education.
Essentially Mr. Aragon and the Governor are suggesting that teachers and other public employees should get used to the idea that their compensation package is about to be reduced in the upcoming 2013 legislative budget session.
The discussion was joined by the Secretary of Finance Administration, Tom Clifford, when he hinted at a Martinez Administration proposal to change from a defined benefits plan to a defined contribution plan as he felt the only way the pension boards were addressing solvency was by increasing rates when they should be looking at changing the benefits side of the equation. In other words, reducing benefits and changing the eligible age for those benefits to kick in.
The Governor followed with a question, that was as much a statement of intent, asking if there was any language in the
New Mexico Constitution expressly prohibiting such a change. Not that adhering to the Constitution has ever been of concern to Martinez when she wants her way.
That another attack on public employee compensation is in the works was further evidenced by the orchestration of this meeting, as other Martinez Board appointees chimed in with their suggestions that state and school employees have been getting significant increases in compensation in the last several years, oh and that public employees have safe jobs and don’t have to worry about losing them. (Are these guys living in a parallel universe, or what?)
At one point Aragon led a line of questioning claiming third grade reading levels were down, and that teacher pay increases were part of the problem.
It is clear that Martinez education and finance policy makers are pointing to a more privatized type pension system.
This coincides with a mind-set leading to more privatization of government services, as evidenced in recent reporting by Independent Source PAC and the Santa Fe Reporter, of Martinez appointees sending millions of New Mexico dollars to out of state companies.
This is a link to the Board meeting, the attack on public employees begins about 30 minutes into the meeting.