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California Pension Payouts Increase 73% in 2 Years

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 21, 2012 8:54 AM |

How does one define a “racket?”

Well, in a takeoff of a similar question regarding pornography, I am not sure exactly how I might define a “racket” but I believe I would know one when I see it.

So, where should we look to see a racket at work? California and specifically the public pension system in the Golden State. A few weeks back I highlighted what I believe will be “civil wars” over public pension reforms in our country.

A primary battleground on this front will be the hard left-leaning people’s republic on our left coast. Is there any real surprise that California finds itself in such a fiscal mess? Not really.

How bad is the situation in California?

For taxpayers in California, the public pension hand in your pocket is reaching ever deeper. KCRA in Sacramento reports that over the last two years those receiving pensions of $100k or more increased by more than 31% and the total dollars distributed increased by 73%.

Tennis anyone?

As reported by KCRA, California Six-Figure Pension Club Grows Exponentially:

KCRA 3 has obtained new numbers showing California’s list of retired government workers collecting six-figure pensions is growing exponentially.

Marcia Fritz, a pension reform advocate and a Democrat, has compiled data from CalPERS, CalSTRS and UC Retirement System, showing the $100,000 pension club has grown from 16,000 names two years ago to more than 21,000 names today.

“Two years ago, the payouts were $1.5 billion,” Fritz told KCRA. The president of California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, headquartered in Orangevale, added, “Today there are over $2.6 billion.”

That’s an increase of 73 percent in just two years.

Where did a large number of these recipients work? Higher education. I’ll say it is higher, all right, as in higher payouts. Think all that easy money from government student loans was not traveling right through the system and out the back door in the form of these ridiculous pension payouts? Come on.

Former Sacramento State University President Donald Gerth is now the fourth highest name on the list, collecting a pension of $295,086, according to records released by the California Public Employees Retirement System.

Sacramento State University has a total of 34 names in the $100,000 club. UC Davis has 223 names on the list, including those working for the UCD Medical Center.

What else stands out? How about the city of Stockton. Yes, that fiscally destitute entity that is now preparing to declare bankruptcy.

The city of Stockton may be facing bankruptcy, but has 98 retired government workers with six-figure pensions.

What do people think of this? Stealing from future generations is not exactly an admirable quality. I would go further than that, though. The public pension system in California and many other cities, states, and towns across America has been little more than legalized theft, also known as a “racket.”

How should these egregious payouts be addressed?

Many legitimate contracts have been overrun during our current crisis. Shouldn’t the highly questionable public pension systems in our nation prepare for a dose of similar medicine? No doubt. What is this medicine called?


Game. Set. Match.

Time to put the “rackets” away, boys and girls.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • JR

    In the private sector, the HR department of a company figures out what it has to pay a prospective employee, perhaps including a pension, to attract the “right” person to the company. The salary-setting process is based upon competition, taking into consideration the not-unlimited resources of the company.
    My question, in trying to understand the seemingly-exorbitant pensions being given to retiring people in higher ed in California, is who has the responsibility to determine that pay is competitive, and not a giveaway. If the pay is fair, and in-line for services received (services the citizens of California presumably want) than taxpayers should not squawk. But somehow, that does not seem to be the case.

  • VP

    Here is the rest of the story… all pension investments in risky unregulated derivatives / securities that went so far south they’ll never been seen again. Did they have disclosure? – you bet, and if they’d put the lowly fund managers under a microscope they’d sing like a canary… And this is only a sampling of CA retirement fund lawsuits… Do I think there was fraud? Yeah, but I think the fund managers and their governors were in on it… they knew what was going on – it appears they were told not to worry because there would be enough defaults and insurance to keep them liquid. See:

    The Sucker Punch – The Elite’s Attack on Pension and Retirement Funds

    The blue line below links to one of the Complaints – great reading…

    California Public Employees Retirement System 11,096,822 | $378,513,000
    California State Teachers Retirement System 15,178,407 | $517,735,463
    Fresno City Employees Retirement System 58,828 | $2,006,621
    Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System 1,292,519 | $44,087,823
    Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 532,580 | $18,166,000
    Merced County (CA) Employees’ Retirement Association 64,744 | $2,208,418
    Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System 384,785 | $13,125,000

  • Chuck

    This is a very good article….. I am worried about the situation for a couple of years as I manage the money of some california pensioners and am shocked at former school teachers in california making 6 figures as a pension.

  • Small BD

    Pertaining to the pension for teachers:

    Given their importance for the future of our country, public school educators should be vaulted to the top of societies’ pay scale; but for motivation and attracting higher quality employees, not living the high life while swaping stories of the brats they used to deal with.

    Offer higher annual comp and benefits rather than an underfunded & unpredictable pension liability. Maybe US education will move up in global ranking from its present placing of 36.

    Our tax dollars are being fenced: Parry, Thrust…Charge!

  • Bill

    You have to factor in though, the cost of living out there. What’s to be expected from a place that pays lifeguards up to $200K a year?

  • Richard A. Fletcher

    There is no competitiveness to the state hiring process, it is all in from view, and buried so deep in the labor negotiations, that’s impossible to sort out.

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