Point Of View: Revisiting Pension Reform

It is an absolute betrayal of public trust that California tax dollars are being used to pay for deficits caused by underfunded and mismanaged public sector pensions. If government cannot pay for these pensions, then it should not agree to fund what it cannot afford. Yes, that is exactly what has happened in a big way. California state and local government are facing a one trillion dollar pension deficit. That is one trillion with a T.

So how did we get into this mess? In 1999 the California Public Employees Retirement System manipulated the state legislature and Governor to pass and sign SB 400 (Senate Bill 400 - pension law). It provided a 50 percent retroactive pension increase to all state employees. CalPERS (California Public Employees Retirement System) promised the legislature that this massive money gift would have no long term extra cost to the taxpayers. At the time as it is now the CalPERS board was dominated by representatives of state employees.

Fast forward to the present.

Huge numbers of state workers are retiring at age 55 at 100,000 a year for life. The cost of an annuity to get this same amount of money would be over 2.5 million dollars. Few Americans have that kind of money.

Something has to be done now. Governor Brown, champion the repeal of and modification of SB 400. Further push to add members to government retirement boards that are not controlled by employee unions. Governor Brown, you have an opportunity to leave a legacy of pension reform that will benefit Californians in years to come.

I'd like to hear your Point of View. You can email me directly at POV@fox11.com.

Bob Cook
VP/General Manager, FOX 11