State legislators heard a heavy litany of complaints from school officials this week about Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to make the State Teachers Retirement System solvent and in response temporarily toned down the bite on their budgets.
The Brown plan aims to close a $70-plus billion unfunded liability by eventually raising contributions to $5-plus billion a year, with the lion's share coming from the budgets of local school districts.
But school officials told a joint legislative hearing that the sharp increases would wipe out much of the gains in state aid they are scheduled to receive during the remainder of the decade.
In response, the chairs of the two legislative committees involved asked for a modification and on Friday, the Legislative Analyst's Office released a revised chart that would reach the same level of financing sought by Brown by 2020, but lower the increase in the early years and raise it later.
Brown wanted districts to raise contributions from 8.25 percent of payroll in 2014-15 to 9.5 percent, for instance, but the legislative plan scales it back to 8.88 percent. Districts' payments would ramp up gradually thereafter and surpass Brown's plan in 2018-19 at 17.75 percent, markedly higher than the 15.9 percent in Brown's plan for that year.
Both plans would top out at 19.1 percent in 2020-21, with school districts paying $3.8 billion that year into the pension system, over 70 percent of the $5.3 billion annual increase in revenue for STRS.
The state's contributions and those of teachers would remain virtually the same as Brown's plan, although the increase for teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2013, would be slightly lower for one year.
PHOTO: Joined by school officials, California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an April 2013 news conference in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Renee. C. Byer