The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 6, 2009
'Pension fighter' vows renewed battle to alter retirement benefits

Paul McCauley, the Southern California accountant who has authored several initiatives aimed at cutting public employee pension benefits, has responded to our inquiries after his latest measure failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot. (Click here to read the specifics of the McCauley Pension Recovery Act and its failure to gain 433,971 signatures it needed by Oct. 15 to qualify for a statewide vote.)

We asked McCauley about why his measure didn't make the ballot and whether he plans to try again. In response, the self-described "pension fighter" sent an advanced copy of a piece he's written for LocalNews1.com, a Web-based news site based in Forest Ranch, Calif. McCauley is a regular contributor.

His latest item is an open letter to like-minded crusaders. It is, to be generous, a bit loose with the facts: "A current retiree can look forward to twice to three times in pension income than he or she ever made working." That is false.

Here are a few bits of the column:

November 6, 2009

My Dear Fellow Pension Fighters:

While the McCauley Pension Recovery Act failed to gather sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot - this time - a further effort will be undertaken shortly. In a recent Field Poll, only 58% of California voters opposed the idea of imposing a surtax on pensions. That, of course, is what the McCauley Pension Recovery Act is all about - imposing a surtax on pensions ...

During this past year, the public-employee pension issue exploded, both due to the collapse of its funding base - with the loss of $600 billion nationwide (roughly $200 billion here in California) - and due to publicity about individual pensioners drawing more in pensions than they ever made during their working years. A current retiree can look forward to twice to three times in pension income than he or she ever made working.

The public employees think their pensions are "protected by law" and "guaranteed." Any person with a sense of history knows there is nothing in this world that is protected by law and guaranteed. The rush of political events can sweep anything away that's in its path ...

In my opinion, the McCauley Pension Recovery Act will be part of any solution that emerges. As drafted today, it would recover more than one-half the annual payout of public employee pensions throughout California. That's a good start!

We'll stop there. If you want to read the entire 999-word open letter,

click here.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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