The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 27, 2011
CalSTRS appointee helped with controversial pension report

110127 finger-pointing.jpgOn his way out the door, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a controversial pardon and a high-profile thumb-in-your-eye appointment to the UC Board of Regents. But have you heard about Cameron Percy?

Schwarzenegger appointed Percy to a spot on the CalSTRS board (compensation: $100 per diem) in December, as Gov. Jerry Brown's website notes. At 26, Percy has a graduate degree from Stanford and business experience with a couple of companies.

As a Stanford grad student, Percy helped author "Going For Broke: Reforming California's Public Employee Pension Systems," which Schwarzenegger and Co. referenced as a source for the oft-cited and highly disputed calculation that California's Big Three pension systems faced a collective $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.

CalSTRS' piece of that, according to the year-old study: $156.7 billion. Fund officials have said that's an overestimation.

(The fund says it had $146.4 billion in assets the end of 2010. Figures posted on its website show that its funding level was 78 percent as of June 30, 2009, but STRS has made investment gains since then. Generally, 80 percent funding is considered the threshold for healthy public pension systems -- although that rule of thumb, like most things about public pensions, has been a topic of debate.)

The Senate has a year to confirm Percy's appointment. We called Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office and asked when the Rules Committee might take it up. Spokesman Nathan Barankin said there's no firm date yet: "But governors make their own decisions about appointments. Anyone can be yanked with the stroke of a pen."

IMAGE: www.freefoto.com

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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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