OC Register: "Experts: California not Wisconsin, but benefits unsustainable"
By SCOTT MARTINDALE
Unlike Wisconsin, California stands virtually no chance of stripping public school teachers and other unionized employees of their collective contract-negotiating rights. But like Wisconsin, the economic downturn has put increasing pressure on state workers to accept deep concessions in their health and retirement benefits, experts say.
California is in the middle of a perfect storm – health insurance costs are rising, retirees are living longer, and the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficit is looming – and this means cash-strapped school districts will be increasingly insisting their employees bear more of the cost of their benefits, observers predict.
School districts in California last year picked up an average of 86 percent of the costs of their teachers' benefits, according to 2009-10 data from the state Department of Education. In Orange County, the ratio was even higher – taxpayers paid 93 percent of the total cost.