Latest pension overhaul shows how political wind has turned against unionsby John Kennedy | April 10th, 2011
The municipal pension rewrite now advancing in the House — and headed to the Senate Budget Committee next week — has a history rooted in Republican politics, having emerged as a payback to unions that supported Gov. Jeb Bush in 1998.
But the political wind in Tallahassee has shifted sharply this spring.
And for Florida’s police and fire unions, one-time allies are now enemies, with the pension overhaul the latest in a series of what labor sees as union-busting moves by the GOP leadership.
“Did we go too far? Yeah, maybe we did,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who as House Speaker in 1999 led the legislation sought by Bush. “But we were pretty flush back then. We can’t afford this now.”
As for Bush, he’s apparently changed, too. In January he and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich co-authored an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. In it, the pair urge that states consider declaring bankruptcy to reorganize their troubled finances.
Why do they need to take such a drastic step?
To get out from under sweetheart pension deals for greedy unions, the former deal-maker turned reformer now writes.