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California’s pension reform has been left unfinished

By in Press Enterprise on November 24, 2017

By The Editorial Board

About a year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown told an audience in San Francisco, “We’re not finished with pension reform. We’ve still got to do much more there.”

But public employee unions in California would like to undo even the small amount that has been done. The governor’s 2012 pension reform law has been challenged with several lawsuits, including one by the union that represents Calfire firefighters. This week, Brown’s office was in court to file a brief arguing that the pension changes — which included reduced benefits for new workers and restrictions on pension “spiking” — were necessary “to maintain the public’s trust in the government’s prudent use of limited taxpayer funds.”

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The funds are more limited than ever, compared to the rising unfunded liability. CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have only about two-thirds of the assets they would need to pay the benefits they owe to state workers.

The two pension systems are now asking schools and local governments to contribute more from their budgets to cover pension costs, and that means there will be less money available to pay for education and basic services. California should look to Michigan, which dealt with a budget and teachers’ pension crisis last summer. With the help of the Reason Foundation’s Pension Integrity Project, lawmakers devised a pension […]    

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