Once More into the Breach

Yet again the executive of the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), in the name of its membership, is off to the Appeals Court in an attempt to delay or derail a legitimate engineering project in which PECG believes the private sector plays too great a role and PECG members too little.

No surprise there. The “I’m All Right Jack” position consistently taken by the union representing state payroll engineers is one of the reasons that our state is in the state it is in.

PECG’s litigious position might be understandable if its members’ livelihoods were threatened by projects like the Presidio Parkway, but the fact is that more than 90 percent of the transportation design work in the state is in the hands of the public sector engineers already and there’s little sign that is going to change. That’s a far higher proportion of work going to the state payroll than any other state in the union, and any country in the world with the possible exception of China. As a result, our state engineer payroll is one of the largest in the world. It even grows during recessions!

So, because PECG can’t come out and say that their jobs are put at risk by public private partnerships (P3s) like Presidio Parkway, they instead claim to oppose because they are protecting the taxpayer. Presidio Parkway, they claim, will place an undue burden on future taxpayers, even though studies have shown that this project will be less costly to build under the structure proposed by Caltrans and SFCTA, the agencies responsible for the project.

Mr. Blanning’s apparent assertion that the Presidio Parkway P3 will become a taxpayer liability is even more disingenuous at a time when the state struggles with the very much larger question of how to pay one of its biggest unfunded liabilities: the more than $500 billion (and growing) in pension obligations demanded by Mr. Blanning’s members and other state sector unions. If Mr. Blanning is really concerned about undue financial burdens placed on the taxpayer, he should be talking about that and not a legitimate project which, precisely because it is structured as a P3, will cost taxpayers less to build than a traditional state managed project and will be built on time to the highest standards.

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