When I heard Gov McDonnell went on television and said state employees “pay nothing” towards their retirement I wanted to give the Governor the benefit of the doubt. He himself signed the budget bill that required state employees to do just that. This point was so important to the Governor that he devoted five paragraphs to it in his State of the Commonwealth address in January.
Additionally state employees contribution to their own retirement was one of the sticking points of the Wisconsin budget battle. This battle brought the issue of state retirement system insolvency to the national stage. McDonnell said that he stood with the Republican Governor of Wisconsin in his efforts to cut state employee benefits and compared their budgetary woes with ours Virginia.
In February a compromise was reached with the budget negotiators in the House of Delegates and Senate. The result of this compromise was that state employees would be required to devote a portion of their salary to the Virgina Retirement System.
So it was surprising to hear Governor McDonnell on CNBC saying that state employees do not contribute to their retirement. I simply assumed he was working on an old set of talking points or had developed a momentary case of amnesia.
What was most surprising to me was the response from his office to the folks at Politifact Virginia. Instead of dismissing his statements as a simple mistake McDonnell's office tried to justify them by citing a 2008 JLARC study. This justification was not enough for the Politifact team and they gave his statement a “Pants on fire” their lowest rating past “Lie”
Scarier still was McDonnell's insinuation that he would be requesting further concessions from state workers in his next budget. One can only hope he gets amnesia and forgets.