After our email last week encouraging US Senator Kamala Harris to help eliminate California’s extraordinary spending on unnecessary insurance subsidies for retired public employees (OPEB), some of you asked why we thought someone like Senator Harris with such a long history of support from public employee unions would be willing to help on that issue. We have several reasons:
- Recently she said that funding our public schools would create greater safety. Presumably she knows that public schools in California are being defunded by OPEB spending.
- Recently she expressed support for moving money from police departments to public services. Presumably she knows that the most expensive OPEB recipients are police officers.
- With long time support from public safety and other public employee unions, Senator Harris’s opinion would be influential with those unions, which oppose OPEB reform;
- As a beneficiary of San Francisco’s OPEB program and a legal expert, Ms. Harris is in a unique position to point out the costly redundancy of OPEB in light of subsidies available from the Affordable Care Act and the state’s Middle Class Subsidies program;
- As a supporter of more federal COVID aid for California, presumably Senator Harris would prefer the benefit of those funds not be diminished by diversion to unnecessary subsidies for public employees.
With OPEB reform, Sacramento could stop laying off teachers, San Francisco could fund the $100 million launch of Mental Health SF, the state could eliminate $60 billion of OPEB debt, and more. It’s never too late for a lawmaker to walk their talk.