Brown: No teachers' pension fix until after November election

Brown: No teachers' pension fix until after November election

unionpowerql4Gov. Jerry Brown has a basic problem when it comes to the California State Teachers' Retirement System: the most powerful forces in state politics oppose the standard fix for an underfunded pension system, even if it is now enshrined in state law.

The Legislature sets the contribution rates for pension costs. The status quo has long been that employers contribute 8.25 percent of pay, teachers 8 percent of pay and the state about 5 percent of pay.

The norm with other public agencies that shore up their pensions is that all parties contribute more. Under a bill Brown signed in 2012, government agencies in California must adopt contracts that have employers and employees equally share the normal cost of pension liabilities by 2018.

But that would mean a cut in teachers' pay. And the 400,000 members of the California Teachers Association and the 120,000 members of the California Federation of Teachers won't have that.

So does the popular Brown take on the CTA and CFT and live up to his East Coast rep as a genius politician who's tamed the Golden State?

Nah. He punts until after the November election.

“[The LAO] analysis said the governor should put more money into the teacher pension fund. Administration officials estimate that the retirement system is underfunded by $80.4 billion.

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“Brown has proposed only the state's regular $1.4-billion payment to that system in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. State officials have said that it would take $4.5 billion a year for the next three decades to stabilize the pension fund.

“The governor has said the state needs a new strategy for funding teachers' pensions, which would involve bigger contributions from the state, schools and teachers themselves. H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, said the administration does not expect to have a new funding plan until 2015.”

That's from the L.A. Times. If you think that it is just a coincidence that Brown is waiting until after the election to address what the state auditor's office and the LAO say is a funding crisis with CalSTRS, I've got a subdivision in Lake Elsinore you might like to buy.

Our allegedly genius gov is as scared of the CTA and CFT as anyone. Will he have more leverage in 2015? Nah. He may not need the teachers unions as much at that point because he can't run for a third/fifth term.

But state lawmakers will still be in their thrall. It's a California thing.

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