Fresh evidence that Jerry Brown’s pension fix fixed little

bizarro.jerryJuly 10, 2013

By Chris Reed

The aura of self-congratulation surrounding the governor’s office is particularly intense when it comes to the pension reform measure that Jerry Brown got through the Legislature in September.

But I’m not like some other Cal Watchdog contributors who consider the measure a feeble joke. Its provision requiring that public employees eventually must foot half the bill for their pensions — unless it is repealed — will someday lead to public employees asking for smaller pensions so they can have more take-home pay.

That said, I too thought the governor oversold the sweep of his reform measure and was crazy to depict it as anything but the first step of several to address the pension tsunami. Now California Common Sense has come forward with a study that shows the law hasn’t changed the trajectory of California’s pension crisis at all.

“California Common Sense, a nonprofit and nonpartisan watchdog group, recently released a study pointing out that despite glowing reviews for Brown’s 2013-2014 budget — which predicts a $1.7 billion general fund surplus — the state’s unfunded retirement liability has increased 5 percent since February.

“According to the study, California’s major retirement systems now have $222.2 billion in unfunded pensions, up from $211.4 billion five months ago. The report says that number was $110 billion in 2007-2008, meaning the state’s unfunded pensions have doubled in six years.”

Officials numbers grossly understate liabilities

That’s from the Sacramento Business Journal — which also had the good sense to note the official estimates of unfunded liabilities may well be little more than happy talk.

“In January, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters used figures from a Moody’s to estimate that California ‘could have unfunded pension debt approaching $300 billion, plus another $100 billion for retiree health care.’ In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration claimed the pension overhang for California State Teachers’ Retirement System, California Public Employees’ Retirement System and theUniversity of California Retirement System was $500 billion, a number they based on a study by a group of Stanford University students, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Stanford professor later claimed that local government retirement pensions are short by $200 billion.

That Stanford professor was Joe Nation, a former Democratic state senator. His candor got him called names by Bill Lockyer, who for all his reputation for outspokeness and contrarianism is an abject CalPERS apologist.

Here’s a link to my whining the day that Lockyer joined Team Maviglio.

Here’s a link to the California Common Sense study.

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