Town Square

Con Fire is overfunded already

Original post made by Taxed to Death, another community, on Sep 20, 2012

The new tax asked for by our comfortable living Supervisors will hurt everyone who is barely making it. Supervisors sold $129,000,000 million dollars in bonds for the fire district. They should use that money to fix their problems or sell more bonds. I have no more money to give. I am just holding on to my home as it is. I even have a hard time filling my car up with $4.20 a gallon gas. The worst part is when I see fire people commuting with official vehicles.
Maybe the leaders have not really tried to fix it seeing $250,000.00 dollars fire people and $250,000.00 dollars pensions at 50 years old while I am just getting by and will probably not see social security that I paid into all my life. The entire new tax idea disgusts me every time I think of all the waste in this county.


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Posted by Policy of Truth
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

Dan Borenstein’s Crusade Against Public Pensions Gets the Best of Him and Misleads Readers
January 12, 2013

Dan Borenstein is one of the few columnists that understands many of the complexities of public pensions but his personal bias and crusade against public employee pensions once again got the best of him, thus misleading your readers, in his January 11 column (“CalPERS planning to gut a key cost-control provision of new pension law”).

He attacks CalPERS preliminary interpretation of the new pension law that went into effect January 1 and the types of compensation that can be used toward calculating pensions. Contrary to Borenstein’s snide comment that CalPERS operates “in a parallel universe,” our interpretation of this provision is the agreed upon intent of those who wrote, passed and signed the bill into law. What he neglects to tell readers – a fact which CalPERS explicitly shared with him during multiple attempts to try to help him get the facts straight, which he nevertheless failed to do – is that during the legislative process, CalPERS worked with the legislative committee consultants to answer their questions and enable them to write the bill according to their intent. They agree that the intent was to eliminate some special compensation but not all of it. Further, as we prepared our preliminary interpretation in recent weeks, we based it on conversations with officials in the legislature and the administration. In spite of Borenstein’s most fervent personal desires, the legislature’s intent was never to limit pension calculations to base pay only. Additionally, CalPERS will seek broad public input on the issue of compensation before any interpretations or regulations are finalized.

Borenstein’s view that our interpretation of the law will lead to pension spiking is both shortsighted and wrong. The abuse of pension spiking, by significantly increasing an employee’s base pay in the final year of their career, has been addressed in changes CalPERS instituted years ago for public agencies and school employees. In fact many of the items specifically called out in the new legislation have not been reportable to CalPERS. Pension spiking is also addressed in the new law through a cap on compensation that can be used to calculate a new member’s pension as well as requirements to use the average of an employee’s highest salary over three years of their career for public agencies and schools.

Lastly, Borenstein is again wrong when he condescendingly claims that CalPERS “absurd interpretation of the new law will … erode untold billions of dollars of savings that … CalPERS previously claimed the new law would produce.” The only absurd interpretation here is Borenstein’s complete ignorance or disregard of what CalPERS actually said in our cost analysis of the bill. CalPERS never claimed that the restrictions on what is included in pensionable compensation would result in significant savings, let alone “untold billions.” Instead, CalPERS wrote in our cost analysis: “We have not reviewed or been able to assess the potential impact of any such changes. To the extent that savings are realized as a result of additional restrictions on pensionable compensation, the savings will be greater than quoted in this analysis.”

CalPERS is committed to implement and administer the laws as they were enacted. Borenstein has done nothing more than rush to judgment and yell fire. If his readers believe his rhetoric, they will likely only get burned by the misinformation.