California Legislature to Tackle Teacher Retirement Fund Debt

Jan 29, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Some lawmakers say it’s time to get serious about paying down debt accrued by California's teachers’ retirement system. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that will take a big financial commitment.

Assembly Democrats say they’re ready to look for ways to pay down the unfunded liability of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The governor’s office puts the debt at more than $80 billion.

Speaker John Perez says the Assembly will begin hearings on the issue.

When state lawmakers were beating their chests last year about the need to reduce pension liabilities, they didn’t actually do anything about the largest liability of all. 

The California State Teachers Retirement System – known as CalSTRS – is facing a projected $70 billion shortfall.   KPCC’s Julie Small attended a sobering hearing Wednesday on the state’s options for closing the gap.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The author of a bill that would exempt 20,000 California union members from last year’s pension overhaul is defending the measure against criticism that it breaks a promise to voters who just approved tax increases. 

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says he introduced the bill because of a conflict between the new state pension law and U.S. labor law that applies to 20,000 local and regional public transit workers.  As a result, he says, $2 billion in federal transportation funds are at risk.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

A bill sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk could provide a retirement savings plan for private sector employees who don’t have one.

It passed on a party line vote the last day of the legislative session, after the Governor requested changes.

The bill establishes a board to make sure it doesn’t cost taxpayers money. And last minute changes to the bill give the legislature final authorization.

Democratic Senator Kevin DeLeon (Day-lee-OWN) authored the bill. He says more than seven million private sector employees don’t have access to a retirement plan.

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new survey shows that two critical issues in California – pension reform and high speed rail– are not sitting well with voters.

The survey shows that more Californians are opposed to high speed rail and think the recently-signed pension legislation doesn’t do enough to address unfunded costs.

The survey was conducted by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University. It showed that only 39 percent of voters support high speed rail. 43 percent oppose it.

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that he called the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the state’s history.

Governor Brown says the changes in the state’s pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. The legislation will increase the retirement age for new public employees and require them to pay at least half of their pension costs. It also caps the salary amount that can go toward pensions.

Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday

Aug 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown says the pension deal he announced today will save the state billions of dollars. But it’s drawing criticism from unions and Republicans.

Here is some of what’s in the plan: A cap on the salary that a public employee in California could use to calculate a pension. Higher retirement ages, with reduced payments. And a requirement for employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

Pension Deal Nears; Unions Furious

Aug 27, 2012

A proposed overhaul of California’s pension system is angering public employee unions, as Democrats get set to unveil the details. The specific details are being kept as quiet as can be, but all signs point to a deal emerging by Tuesday at the California State Capitol. 

Democrats are promising “comprehensive pension reform” that will save tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Assemblyman Warren Furutani says the deal won’t please everyone.

A bill that would create a retirement plan for California private sector workers who have no pensions or 401-K’s is facing intense opposition from business groups. The bill was heard today by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has decided that now is not the time to change California’s newly-approved process for cities and counties to enter into bankruptcy.

He’s decided to kill the legislation authored by a Democratic Assembly member. The bill would have loosened deadlines on negotiations with creditors and labor groups. But Steinberg says it’s time now for the legislature to focus elsewhere.