Blog looks at pension problems in state

Star-News reporter Dan Abendschein points out a new blog about public pensions, The blog is a project of Ed Mendel, a reporter who covered Sacramento for nearly 30 years.

Here’s a snipet about the blog:

About us

The main focus of is the pair of big pension funds based in Sacramento, the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, which have two of the world’s largest investment portfolios.

There also are more than 80 smaller public employee pensions funds in California. Among them are 22 pension funds operated by counties, 32 by cities and 25 by special districts.

Most of the pension funds face the same basic issues. Are pension benefits negotiated by employer unions too generous? Will growing pension costs cut deeply into funding for other government programs?

With their investment clout, the big pension funds can push for better corporate performance, energy-efficient buildings and other policies. The operations of these wealthy and powerful funds are worth a closer look.

  • Dog Spot

    Kudos to Ed Mendel for setting up a website to monitor what is the biggest issue in California. It is clear from observing what Monrovia went through recently that most cities and school districts are just simply too timid to stand up to public safety and teacher’s unions, and those that try to make a stand (like the Gem City) find few allies for fear they’ll be labeled anti-law enforcement or anti-teacher.

    As a fiscal conservative, it irritates me to no end to see “fiscally conservatve” council and school board members endorsing local tax and fee hikes to pay bloated public employee pensions. Hopefully, Mr. Mendel’s website will help get this issue to the forefront.

  • Anonymous from El Monte

    If you want to talk about public pensions, we are number one in California when it comes to highest paid Pensions..We have a few already retired and making over $150,000.00 a year and a few more making over $100,000.00 ….And this is due that we have a nice set up of 3% a year with no limit to the number of years and we have a couple of people making 120% salary after they retired..This gift will continue until the year 2018 and thaks to the great City Council and Mayor that claim to represent the people, which they do only for 3 months before the election….And nobody knows at City Hall why we are $4 million dollars short this year..

  • Anonymous

    The pension abuses your talking about were bad. No argument there. You and everyone else should know however that pensions which gave you more in retirement than you got during your working life have end for some time now. In fact many new hires don’t even get the same pension benefits that older employees got.

    Let’s look forward. Most rank and file employees don’t get the type of sweet pension deals referenced by the prior poster but the bargaining units (all bargaining units) should seriously consider scaling back some of the pension packages which the city simply does not have the resources to pay….especially right now. Getting rid of say PARS but keeping CalPers would help alot with the budget without having to tamper with peoples current salaries…not too much at least.

    No bargaining unit wants to seem like the “sucker” who gave away the store to management. Still, the bargaining units shouldn’t kill the good that laid the golden egg….that’s what will happen if we don’t seriously consider a reasonable scaling back of the current pension pacakage….this is where the city bleeds money and this were we can do the most good to stem the bleading flow. Otherwise we will find ourselves in the same horrible situation every year of worrying about who is going to be the next group of people laid off.

    Just some food for thought.

  • anonymous

    While I appreciate your observations, I would have to disagree with several points. First, there are employees that are retiring on pensions that represent more than the retiree was making while working – I have spoken to several retired officers recently -all of whom are making more than their average salary while employed! Next while most “rank and file” employees don’t get the sweetheart retirment deals, they get a package which is simply better than they deserve or the market should offer!
    And those who do get the sweetheart deals, such as city manager, police chiefs, etc. are simply outrageous and a gross abuse of public funds for the benefit of a few.
    I agree that we have to start somewhere and I think disbanding Calpers would be a good start!

  • Anonymous

    Disbanding CalPers would be wrong-headed. Possibly eliminating PARS which is something very different would make a positive difference.

    Saying city employees are getting something “better than they deserve” is over the top. There are many employees who work very hard for the City. Affording them a pension is not only fair it is deserved. It is the amount of pension benefits that’s the issue not that they should not get any sort of pension at all.

  • anonymous

    I don’t believe anyone is stating that government workers should not receive any pension benefits…I certainly state such in my prior comments. Instead, I believe they should receive benefits which are deserved, and earned, not the current excessive sweetheart deals that we are funding. The current government retirement programs far outpace what is offered or seen within the private sector.
    Calpers is the poster child for this type of abuse. The mismanagement of the fund, the outrageous contributions required by the taxpayers and the unrealistic benefits being given out simply can not be sustained….just ask the folks over in Vallejo.

    Sure a pension should be earned by those that are deserving…..but not the continued outrageous abuse that we see under Calpers.