Today's News and Commentary — June 12
As we noted on Tuesday, a trial court in California held that teacher tenure violates the state constitution. Multiple news outlets have covered the story, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik argues this ruling won’t improve teacher quality. The Times also has an article explaining the years of appeals that are likely to follow.
The Washington Post reports that Brazil has averted a major subway workers strike in advance of the World Cup. On Monday, subway workers threatened a walkout and clashed with the police, according to the Post. But on Wednesday, subway workers in Sao Paulo agreed to remain on the job, however, some will march on Thursday morning to demand that forty-two workers fired for walking out be rehired. However, up to twenty percent of airport workers in Rio will participate in a twenty-four hour work stoppage in an ongoing dispute over wages. A prior court order requires that staffing levels at the airport remain above eighty percent.
In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill to address Illinois’ multibillion-dollar pension shortfall, according to the Washington Post. The law will affect 57,000 employees and retirees, and will increase contributions and cut benefits so as to eliminate the $9.4 billion shortfall in the pension fund. We Are One Chicago, a union coalition, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the pension overhaul is unconstitutional.
In other public-sector pension news, the New York Times reports that another retiree group in Detroit agreed to pension cuts. The city’s plan to resolve its bankruptcy crisis requires 4.5 percent cuts in pension benefits for municipal retirees. If pensioners don’t accept the proposed agreement by mid-July, they could face steeper reductions later via court order.
In related economic news, the New York Times has analyzed economic indicators, and writes that slow growth may be the new normal following the Great Recession. Although the severe economic downturn officially ended five years, peak economic growth has averaged two percent per year, which is well below America’s historical average.