California’s public pension jackpot

Sept. 21, 2012

By Jennifer Kerns

Last spring, three Maryland co-workers won the Mega Millions lottery and, as the old saying goes, it couldn’t have happened to nicer people.

Lotto officials announced that three public school employees struck it rich with a $200 Million winning ticket. The trio called themselves “the three amigos” and were described by Lottery officials as “the kind of people you hoped would win.”  Apparently they had all struggled with bills in this down economy.

But one doesn’t necessarily need to buy a lottery ticket to win big. Forget Maryland.

If you’re a public school employee in California, chances are you’ve probably already hit the jackpot.

California ranks number one in the highest pensions for public employees — outranking even New York and New Jersey.  Here there are a whopping 856,000 teachers and other school personnel across 1,900 districts currently within the California State Teachers Retirement System. The average pension for each of those teachers in California is $1 million over a 20-year period. Which means we have created a “millionaire teachers” class within the California economy.

Some school administrators take home $200,000-per-year pensions. And as reported recently by the Associated Press, some of those administrators have taken advantage of a little-known retention plan to take lump sum cash payouts of $147,000 on top of those already-bloated pensions. These are the kind of winnings one could only get through a lottery — or, as we say in California, just your average day at the school playground.

Prop. 30

As if that weren’t enough, Californians are now being asked to approve yet another tax increase through Proposition 30, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown and the teachers’ unions. However, even as the governor and his friends are selling this ticket to voters as a way to increase funding for schools, the California School Boards Association admits revenue raised from the governor’s ballot initiative won’t go to classrooms. It would actually go into California’s General Fund, making the odds very high that new revenue from Prop. 30 would go toward more bloated pensions and more government spending. After all, all government money is fungible.

In fact, David Crane asserts that 100 percent of the revenues from Prop. 30 will go to pensions (mostly due to investment shortfalls since the Great Recession).  You sure wouldn’t know it by reading the Prop. 30 propaganda. Crane, a Democrat, is a finance expert and a former economic adviser to then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Finally, speaking of lotteries, California’s own lottery once promised to save education.  The California Lottery has provided a whopping $24 billion to public schools since 1985, yet schools are still failing.

Why? Because time has proven that simply throwing money at a system won’t solve the problems.  Lawmakers haven’t trimmed the necessary fat from the budget and they haven’t allowed reforms — not even the simple act of allowing competitive bidding on services such as lawn care. And they’ve done virtually nothing on pension reform. To this day, classrooms continue to hang in the balance, relying upon the “lottery” that is our ballot box in order to find out where their next round of funding will come from.

Come Nov. 6, voters will determine whether or not they believe Brown’s Prop. 30 is not the winning ticket for California.

Jennifer Kerns is a taxpayer advocate and communications strategist.  Over the last 10 years, she has served as a media consultant to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, as an Assistant Secretary of State for California, as Senior Press Secretary for former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and as the former Spokeswoman for the California Republican Party. Kerns is the only Press Secretary to unanimously win every single newspaper endorsement for a Republican Statewide candidate in California. She can be reached at [email protected]

47 comments

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  1. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 21 September, 2012, 08:01

    Wow– What a rehash of half truths——zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Reply this comment
  2. Douglas
    Douglas 21 September, 2012, 08:17

    Half truths is correct.

    I actually will receive about a million dollars in pension IF I live to be 82.

    But I didn’t buy a lotto ticket. I basically invested 15% of my salary for almost 40 years.

    And my pension is higher than average.

    Reply this comment
  3. Douglas
    Douglas 21 September, 2012, 08:28

    David Crane, master of half truths.

    Money is fungible.

    The revenues from prop 30 will NOT go to pensions. Pension cost are an ongoing expense, as they are part of the total compensation of employees, similar to the 6% of salary paid by the state toward social security. They WILL be paid whether or not prop 30 passes.

    If prop 30 does not pass, less funds will be available for schools. No doubt about that.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 08:33

    And the idiot Caulifornians will pass it.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 08:34

    Now trot out the CWD Poodle……yawn!

    Reply this comment
  6. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 08:35

    I actually will receive about a million dollars in pension IF I live to be 82.

    But I didn’t buy a lotto ticket. I basically invested 15% of my salary for almost 40 years.

    Boo hoo!

    There are a lot of people who invest just as much or more in 401k and IRAs but aren’t guaranteed a million dollars or even didley squat because their returns ARE NOT GUARANTEED BY THE TAXPAYER.

    Reply this comment
  7. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 08:40

    “I actually will receive about a million dollars in pension IF I live to be 82.

    But I didn’t buy a lotto ticket. I basically invested 15% of my salary for almost 40 years. ”

    You get a guaranteed payout at taxpayers expense, regardless of how much CalPERS screws up or the market dives.

    But not the vast majority of private sector workers.

    At the company I work for out 401k lost 40% of its value in 2008 and we don’t have the taxpayer to bail us out.

    Reply this comment
  8. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 08:46

    Bob…

    Are you a unentitled capitalist?

    Suck it up…

    You chose your own lot in life….

    Reply this comment
  9. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 09:05

    Well Queegster, at least I did not choose to loot the taxpayers.

    Reply this comment
  10. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 09:12

    Oh Bob..this is not a critical analysis of a Pippy Long Stocking play…

    You jumped into a high fee good ole boy Wall Street retirement plan buying the Fox Business News Kool-Aid.

    You pounded your chest…I am a capitalist!

    Reply this comment
  11. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 09:20

    I did, Queqster? I must have missed the movie of reality that you are experiencing.

    But forget about me, Queegly. If people in the private sector can’t afford to retire how can they afford to pay for the retirement of government employees?

    Reply this comment
  12. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 09:35

    Cannot forget about whiner faux capitalists who have shiny pants and holes in their Nordstrom Rack loafers who bought Wall Street hucksters’ jive while they cleaned you out with a “it’s so unfortunate” form letter or robo call.

    There are more than enough of you “faux capitalists” to pay the reasonable pensions hard working and dedicated government workers deserve…

    Reply this comment
  13. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 09:37

    Where is that Poodle?

    Reply this comment
  14. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 09:41

    “There are more than enough of you “faux capitalists” to pay the reasonable pensions hard working and dedicated government workers deserve…”

    You misspelled leeches and parasites, HTH.

    Reply this comment
  15. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 09:51

    Name calling? Your a possible front row customer for a Pippy Longstocking play…off Wall Street.

    No retort is credible when it is vile and full of loathing of your fellow man.

    Reply this comment
  16. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 09:52

    Next capitalist?

    Reply this comment
  17. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 13:34

    Queegster, you still have not answered the question of how and why people in the private sector who can’t affort to retire should pay for the retirement of government employees.

    Reply this comment
  18. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 21 September, 2012, 15:04

    And the idiot Caulifornians will pass it.

    Put your money where your mouth is, I have $100 to any takers that Prop 30 fails, DOA baby, take that to the bank…

    CWD Rotti endorced 🙂

    Reply this comment
  19. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 15:49

    Betting is so gosh to make your point!

    Reply this comment
  20. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 15:53

    Government workers service all income levels. They have skills many in private industry do not possess. To attract top employees pensions are not unreasonable and necessary.

    Rich or poor….you use government services you pay….taxes or fees!

    Reply this comment
  21. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 21 September, 2012, 17:22

    $100 bucks teddy- put up or shut up 😉

    Reply this comment
  22. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 17:32

    Sleep tight…you’re shunned!

    Reply this comment
  23. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 18:39

    Well Queeqster, I no longer want to be serviced by my government masters and their minions, or at least be serviced much less often.

    And you can say and think whatever you want but it doesn’t change the fact that the economy can no longer afford your ilk.

    Reply this comment
  24. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 21 September, 2012, 19:08

    Hey Bob,
    pension envy is unhealthy!

    Reply this comment
  25. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 21 September, 2012, 21:20

    $100 teddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  26. Bob
    Bob 21 September, 2012, 21:26

    The self-hating Democrats like Queeqster never know when to stop.

    Reply this comment
  27. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 22:50

    Ugly unbecoming posts…

    Queeg keeps you balanced!

    Reply this comment
  28. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2012, 22:57

    Why are CWD posters so mean and call people names?

    Check the posts. Afraid some have pictures up on postal office walls.

    Reply this comment
  29. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 September, 2012, 01:10

    Teddy/Queeg, pipe down you moron.

    Reply this comment
  30. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 22 September, 2012, 06:45

    Bob- Nthoc is right– envy is a dead end street amigo.

    Reply this comment
  31. Queeg
    Queeg 22 September, 2012, 07:50

    Dog……you should be ashamed of your school yard potty mouth.

    Reply this comment
  32. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 September, 2012, 14:41

    🙂
    No such thing as a potty mouth w/o F-bombs!

    Reply this comment
  33. Queeg
    Queeg 22 September, 2012, 15:16

    You did that. F-bomb and you almost got banned for filthy language against an angelic poster!

    Reply this comment
  34. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 September, 2012, 21:32

    LOL..Teddy, you’re the only one dropping the F-bombs here you lil potty mouth 🙂

    Reply this comment
  35. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 23 September, 2012, 08:55

    Rex the Poodle—- I don’t use language like “f Bombs”— SHOW ME WHEN I HAVE ? Your accusations of same, like all of your ranting is clownish.

    Reply this comment
  36. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 September, 2012, 09:26

    Teddy, you are a trouble maker, always have been, and when your welfare queen butt gets a 50% pension reduction (which you KNOW you didn’t earn) I am throwing a party!

    Type now little troll

    Reply this comment
  37. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 September, 2012, 09:27

    Your accusations of same, like all of your ranting is clownish.

    OMG, this is ssoooo….funnyyyy!!!!!

    Pot, say hello to kettle 😉

    Reply this comment
  38. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 September, 2012, 09:32

    Teddy, you are the funniest little troll I have come across (seesaw #2), and that’s why I love you (and seesaw) 🙂

    Reply this comment
  39. Queeg
    Queeg 23 September, 2012, 10:18

    Shun him…NOW!

    Reply this comment
  40. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 23 September, 2012, 10:42

    Teddy, why so mean today? Get up on the wrong side of the bed?? Spouse holding out??? ;( get ride of that unside down smile 🙂

    Reply this comment
  41. Ron Kilmartin
    Ron Kilmartin 24 September, 2012, 21:04

    See my blog: The Diabolic DEMPUB axis – Vote them out!

    http://ronkilmartin.wordpress.com/

    If Brown penalizes school 1 dime when Prop 30 fails, he should be impeached. The most logical place to cut is the CARB effort being wasted on global warming and the Department of Education itself. Return the districts to parent control and the education bureaucrats in Sacamento and Washington to the real world.

    Reply this comment
  42. eatingdogfood
    eatingdogfood 25 September, 2012, 06:18

    RICO Conspiracy; The Unions and the Democrats!

    Reply this comment
  43. Tough Love
    Tough Love 25 September, 2012, 09:42

    Quoting Ron Kilmartin …”If Brown penalizes school 1 dime when Prop 30 fails, he should be impeached. The most logical place to cut is the CARB effort being wasted on global warming and the Department of Education itself. ”

    No …. trash the Public Sector pensions … ALL of them (for actives and retirees). Reduce them the what SS pays and no more.

    Reply this comment
  44. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 25 September, 2012, 15:44

    You seem to be getting ever more shrill and unhinged as time passes, TL. What’s wrong? Has you entire life gone so badly off track that you’re reduced to nothing more than increasing bitter vitriol against public employees?

    You used to occasionally have some worthwhile insights. Where did they go?

    Reply this comment
  45. Tough Love
    Tough Love 26 September, 2012, 12:01

    Skippy, I was tired and a bit fed-up wit the nonsense of some posters, so I reacted a bit harshly. Here’s one (I posted elsewhere yesterday) you should (but probably won’t) like better:

    The Jason Richwine paper (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/the-real-cost-of-public-pensions) is right on the money. Too bad he didn’t include some of the OTHER nonsense coming from those fighting pension reform….such as Police & Firefighters trying to justify their absurdly generous pensions by saying that they only live on average about 5 years after retiring…. refuted as incorrect and ridiculous by CalPERS actuary.

    Additionally, the modest “average” pensions that DB pension supporter like to quote are misleading for reasons beyond just the short career workers that Richwine mentioned. These “averages” also include (a) those who retired long ago at lower salaries (often before big, and sometimes retroactive benefit increases), (b) part-time workers, and (c) 50% survivorship share payouts to widows and widowers.

    Notwithstanding Constitutional issues, contract law and property right issues, it’s WAY past time to end the financial rape of Taxpayers by the collusion between the Public Sector Unions and our self-serving, vote-selling, contribution-soliciting elected officials.

    Employee contribution increases are NEVER even remotely sufficient to address this huge problem. The best (and justifiable) solution would be to end further DB Plan accruals for future service for CURRENT workers, or if that is not possible, to reduce the accrual rate by at least 50% … still leaving Public Sector workers with far greater pensions than their Private sector counterparts.

    If neither of these options are viable, then we must outsource 90+% of all public Sector workers as outsourcing ends the “employment relationship” and with it all future growth in pensions and benefits.

    Reply this comment
  46. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 26 September, 2012, 12:44

    Interesting article, TL, but it’s really no more than a rehash of your argument that discount rates should be calculated on a “risk free” basis, rather than by either historical investment returns or ROI targets each year. After all, it is the Heritage Foundation publishing the paper, and Heritage clearly has its own political agenda – just as you do.

    Reply this comment
  47. Tough Love
    Tough Love 26 September, 2012, 13:04

    Skippy, I can’t seem to recall …. have you (as a retired Police Officer) ever mentioned to BS about cops & firefighters dying soon after retiring ?

    Reply this comment

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