Thursday, January 03, 2008

They say it like it's a bad thing

One of the arguments frequently used when discussing the urgency to reform Kentucky's public employees pension system is that there will be a large number of state workers retiring this year. Hundreds of state employees are expected to call it quits in 2008 due to a quirk in the pension calculation formula making this a prime year for retirement. Lots of them delayed their retirement until this year to take advantage of the system in order to receive a larger monthly pension check.

While some are concerned about the financial strain this influx of pensioners will put on an already-overburdened Kentucky Retirement System, others are lamenting the loss of years' of experience and the departure of so much institutional knowledge from state government.

Some may think that's a bad thing, but for those of us who believe state government is woefully mismanaged and terribly run, we say "good riddance." Getting rid of hundreds of "but we've always done it this way" drones and replacing them with fresh faces with new ideas may be just what this state needs to get its bureaucracy out of the toilet and functioning more efficiently and effectively.

We have to admit, though, we were more enthused about this prospect three years ago, when there were still reasonable chances for Ernie Fletcher to be re-elected as governor. We were salivating at the thoughts of replacing all those Democrat patronage hack hires of years past with good conservatives who would bring conservative values to the bowels of the bureaucracy.

Seeing that the Democrat patronage system is back in full force, we're not quite as optimistic about this upcoming rollover of state employees as we were a few years ago when it appeared Fletcher would still be in office in '08, but we're still cautiously hopeful that there will be some new ideas brought aboard with the new hires.

Institutional knowledge may be a good thing, but when the knowledge is of a system that is fundamentally flawed and inherently wasteful, that knowledge needs to be purged. The upcoming wave of state employee retirements is just such an opportunity to reinvent state government and make it more efficient.


At 8:21 PM, January 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment is correct insofar as you note that Fletcher would've had this opportunity had some of his crew just been patient.

At 8:36 PM, January 03, 2008, Blogger Kentucky Progress said...

The average age of a new state employee is 38. These are people who, for the most part, have been around the private sector and decide they want to ride out their working years in the relative comfort of the public sector. The problem is that once they make that decision, they are pretty much stuck with it until they put in their time to maximize a pension.
This is another reason we need to go to defined contribution plans and end the practice of giving health insurance benefits to non-Medicare eligible retirees. That way, we attract younger employees. If they like the work, they stick around. If they don't, they bolt and everyone is happier.


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