CalWatchdog Morning Read – January 5

  • CA cities’ pension costs rise to meet CalPERS expectations
  • SD mayor running for governor?
  • Legislator wants to move state’s primary date 
  • University of California wants to raise tuition
  • Rep. Issa proposes high-skilled visa overhaul

Good morning! TGIT. We begin this morning with pensions.

After two years of minuscule investment returns, the nation’s largest state pension fund – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System – has once again lowered its expected rates of return.

Even some CalPERS officials and consultants argue the lowered financial expectations don’t go far enough to shore up the fund’s financial position, as it now only has 68 percent of the assets needed to pay all its future retirement promises.

This end-of-year board vote to reduce expected investment returns from 7.5 percent to 7 percent portends difficulties for local agencies that provide pensions to their public employees through the CalPERS system.

Lowered earnings estimates mean these agencies will have to contribute significantly higher payments to the pension fund to defray the costs of these benefit packages. 

California local governments already have faced 50-percent hikes in their CalPERS payments over the past several years, which has led local officials and pension reformers to increasingly fear a continuing cycle of service cut-backs and tax increases.

Indeed, there was some pressure at CalPERS to push the expected return rates down to the 6 percent range, but some officials expressed concern about what this would mean, cost wise, for member agencies.

CalWatchdog has more. 

In other news: 

  • “San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has quietly started discussing a potential run for governor with advisers and prospective donors, according to a former Los Angeles mayor and sources familiar with Faulconer’s deliberations.” Politico has the story. 

  • “California’s presidential primary could find itself squarely in the middle of the Super Tuesday political sweepstakes in 2020 under a proposal being introduced this week at the state Capitol.” The Los Angeles Times has more. 

  • “The University of California will seek to raise undergraduate tuition and fees next year by nearly 3 percent, ending a six-year tuition freeze that followed steep rate hikes during the economic recession,” reports The Sacramento Bee

  • “U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, wants companies that recruit highly skilled foreign workers to follow new standards aimed at making it more difficult to exploit the visa program that allows them to work in the U.S. Issa on Wednesday introduced legislation backed by multiple Democrats and Republicans that changes the requirements for the visa program known as H-1B, which was designed so foreign workers with specialty skills can fill jobs in the U.S. when qualified Americans aren’t available.” The Los Angeles Times has more. 


  • In at 9 a.m.

Gov. Brown:

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