The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 10, 2011
CalSTRS responds to Little Hoover pension report

110310 ehnes.jpgLast month's Little Hoover Commission report suggests pension reforms that would end up costing the state more money in the long run -- and that's if they're even legal, the chief executive of California's biggest teachers' pension fund said in a Wednesday letter to the commission.

"(I)mplementing the recommendations made in the report - even if it were possible to do - would likely weaken,rather than strengthen, retirement security for California's public educators," Jack Ehnes, CEO of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, said in a letter sent to Little Hoover Chairman Daniel Hancock. "Given the importance of this issue to literally millions of Californians, it is time to move past the political rhetoric and focus on solutions that are truly responsive to the problems."

Among Ehnes criticisms:

  • The report fails to acknowledge the role of the market's collapse in what has happened to public pension funds.
  • It generalizes too much. CalSTRS benefits aren't "overly generous," the term the report uses to describe defined benefit public pensions.
  • The suggestion to freeze accrued benefits and then lower pension formulas from that point on are "meaningless" because the commission didn't cite any court decision or analysis that supports the legality of such a move.
  • Putting CalSTRS members into Social Security would cost employers and employees $1.8 billion more each year.

Click here to read the letter from Ehnes to Hancock. This link opens a CalSTRS fact sheet that includes information the cash infusion that the fund needs from the state.

PHOTO: Jack Ehnes, CalSTRS CEO. Courtesy www.calstrs.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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