In a highly-anticipated State of the State address, new Gov. Rick Snyder touched lightly on the topic of government employee benefits. Early on the governor did call attention to $54 billion in unfunded pension and other benefit liabilities, but said nothing further on the topic, giving neither a target for how much these liabilities will be reduced nor laying out a general approach for getting these costs back under control. This came in the context of a speech that was vaguely corporatist in nature, with little in the way of strong pro-market material.
The governor did promise a series of “special messages” starting with a presentation on “government reform” in March. It is possible he will lay out more detailed plans then. But the delay is puzzling when you consider that one of the few points where Gov. Snyder really took a clear stand was the need to speed up the budget-making process in Lansing. His goal is to have a state budget by the end of May, and obviously government employee benefits will be an important component of that.
Gov. Snyder gave us no idea what his goal is for employee benefits or how to reach it. If there's one thing a manager should know, it's that if you fail to set a target you're guaranteed not to hit it. Let's hope he sets it in March. Preferably early March.
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