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Today California Governor Jerry Brown announced a "retirement system overhaul".  Let me decode that for you--- An erosion of our quality of life under the guise of austerity. Highlights of this indignity include requiring public workers to pay HALF of the cost of their pensions through paychecks deductions, diverting 1/3 of the pensions of future hires to the 401k wheel of fortune, and raising the retirement age from 55 to 67.  Wow, I feel better already.  Let the revenue flow into our state under this bold, thoughtful plan.

Think Not?  Me either.

I apologize for a short diary as I am rushed for time today, I will just post the letter that I wrote to the LA Times today in response to Brown's announcement.  

RE: “Brown Risks Backlash On Pension Plan”—October 28, 2011
I will not tolerate addressing the budget crisis by slashing the pensions and benefits of public employees. Substituting one crisis for another is not leadership. Decimating retirement for tens of thousands and forcing employees to contribute more now reduces consumer spending, which is a proven component of economic depression. I will not accept economic depression. The penny-wise pound-foolish proposal promoted by Governor Brown fails to address the underlying cause of the budget shortfall which is the rampant social disregard, fraud and theft perpetuated by the big banks. I will not accept Governor Brown's straw man solution. The banks destroyed our economy, aided by their wholesale purchase of our government. I will not vote for politicians that erode my quality of life under the guise of austerity.  It's time we work to change the balance of power. I will never give up because everything is at stake.

For those of you that wish to address the issue of  reform on its face, think about this. There has been a lot of talk in CA and elsewhere about public employees  getting huge pensions, and let’s be honest. There are always parts of any pension program that can and should be reformed.  But reform in and of itself will not address the underlying fact that there will always be a few that are unjustly enriched. And we have to stop letting that be an excuse to do away with a public good that benefits the many. Until we get money out of politics, I don't trust the corporate whores who are our politicians to undertake any "reform" that has the public good in mind.  It's not that I don't agree with reform, but meaningful reform can only occur when we change the balance of power to promote economic justice over corporate profits.  

Finally, I must apologize for voting for Brown, but given the choice at the time, there was not choice.

Originally posted to jmpalm on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 01:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What they should do but aren't doing (6+ / 0-)

    we don't have something called "full retirement."  What we have is a calculation that goes  something like this:

    Highest 1 year of pay x number of years worked x multiplier for age of employee.

    Under the current formula, at 55 an employee gets highest one year pay x 2 percent per year x number of years worked.

    That means a 55 year old engineer, that started with the state at 30 would get 60 percent of his highest single year of pay.  For this, he pays in quite a bit (and rising) because back in the day, the state waived its part of the contribution because investments were doing so well.  Now that investments are doing shitty, the state has no money to make up for those years when they didn't contribute their share and the workers are getting screwed in the process.

    I would support going back to an average of three years highest salaries in order to avoid pension spiking.

    #Occupy Wallstreet - Politicians will not support the movement until it is too big to fail.

    by Sychotic1 on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 01:33:52 PM PDT

    •  It is also important to note that (3+ / 0-)

      current employees retirement will not change, but that still does not make it right.

      In the old days California state workers did not pay into Social Security, but I believe it was Jerry Brown who added us to those rolls (involuntarily).  I have been paying in, just like everyone else, both into SS and into the state retirement plan.  I have also been putting money into a 457k (much like a 401k) and I am glad I don't have to depend on that money for retirement because I would be working until I drop dead.

      #Occupy Wallstreet - Politicians will not support the movement until it is too big to fail.

      by Sychotic1 on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 01:52:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, FarWestGirl

      would that be enough to save it?

      Younger workers today can barely find a job, let alone a state job what with hiring freezes for years on end, and now they will lose out on pension benefits as well. It makes it easier for Jerry Brown et al. that they are not really focused on what they are supposed to get 30 years down the road.

  •  What is the plan to reform CA state office holder (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, FarWestGirl, Wes Lee

    pensions?  Seems like Jerry is at least a triple dipper in that pond.  As best as I understand it, CA employees no longer get health care included after they retire.  My wife is a teacher and she knows she will be working until she turns 65 because both of us are not likely to ever qualify for private insurance on the open market.  The costs of the medical insurance through the state plan goes up every year, sometimes the benefits are cut, sometimes they stay the same, but it is now a fairly significant part of her salary.  I'd like to see state office holders be held up to the same standards for retirement as state employees.  After all, that is what they are.  I don't know if the state legislature is considered a full time job, but if they work as much as the Fed house, I want my money back.  

    "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

    by dangoch on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 03:08:32 PM PDT

  •  Goes too far (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, FarWestGirl

    California non-safety state employees don't have a very generous pension formula at the present time. They have a maximum multiplier of 2; teachers under CalSTRs have a maximum multiplier of 2.4; many county and city employees have multipliers above 2, including some at 2.7. Cops, firefighters can have multipliers as high as 3. Brown wants his plan to apply to all public employees.
    As has been noted multipliers work like this:
    years worked x multiplier based on age at retirement x maximum salary (one-three years) = annual pension.

    I can see raising the age at which a person can get the maximum multiplier to something higher than 55, but going all the way to 67 is extreme; 60 or 62 would be more reasonable, and certainly it shouldn't be any higher than 65. This should be a matter for negotiation with public employee unions.

    Some provisions of Brown's plan only apply to new hires, including the increase in retirement age and hybrid retirement plans that are no longer all defined benefit plans but include a "defined contribution component". I have no idea how Brown thinks the defined contribution part would work; it would add uncertainty and make it harder to plan for retirement.

    As for public employee contribution levels, that should really be a matter for collective bargaining. Why should public employees  contribute "at least 50 percent"? Where does that come from? Public Employees who aren't paying anything should contribute something, but it should be decided case by case through negotiations, that take into account budget realities, which vary city by city, county by county, etc. Members of some public employee unions may prefer to contribute more to have a more generous multiplier or a lower retirement age; others may prefer to make a smaller contribution but  accept working longer.

    Some parts of Brown's proposal aren't so bad such as limiting post-retirement employment and prohibiting pension holidays. Money definitely needs to go into pension funds during good times, because subsequent bad times are an inevitable feature of our economic system.

  •  Generation X and after... (0+ / 0-)

    Its worth noting that the Social Security retirement age for those of us born after 1960 is 67 already. its been that way for about 15 years.

    ex-SSP. Central Califonia.

    by hankmeister on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 11:09:22 PM PDT

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