The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 25, 2011
A.M. Reading: Airtime politics; CalPERS ticked at News Corp. stock structure; R.I. 'softer' approach to pension debate

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifPension extension via 'airtime' becomes political target
Thousands of California public employees have put down big money on what amounts to a bet with the government that they will live long enough to recoup their investment - and then some. The benefit, which adds to the civil service time figured into employees' pension formulas, has become a political target in the debate over government pay and perks. (Sacramento Bee)

Daniel Borenstein: New pension accounting rules could pressure officials to act like grown-ups
THE HUNDREDS of billions of dollars of publicly reported pension debt in California will increase significantly under proposed new national accounting rules that could make it more difficult and costly for state and local government to borrow money.
As those governments consistently fail to properly fund public-employee pension systems across the country, the obscure, but influential, Governmental Accounting Standards Board has been examining how public agencies should disclose the shortfalls on their financial statements. (Contra Costa Times)

Shareholders' hands tied by News Corp. structure
Some institutional shareholders of News Corp. are steaming mad over perceived board failures in corporate oversight revealed by the phone hacking scandal, but they are virtually powerless to compel any change... Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager-global equities, at the $241.3 billion Sacramento-based California Public Employees' Retirement System, said in a statement, "News Corp. does not have one-share/one-vote. This is a corruption of the governance system. Power should reflect capital at risk. CalPERS sees the voting structure in a company as critical. The situation is very serious and we're considering our options. We don't intend to be spectators -- we're owners." (Pensions & Investments)

What's next for Jerry Brown? He's not telling
With the state budget and a weeklong vacation behind him, Gov. Jerry Brown is back at work, his spokesman said Friday, "charged up and ready to go." On what, exactly, isn't clear. (Sacramento Bee)

State Pension Fund Records One Of its Best Performances in 25 Years
TALLAHASSEE | For months, Gov. Rick Scott defended his plan to force public employees to contribute to their pension as a way to help ensure its financial health for years to come. But just as state and local workers began contributing 3 percent of their salaries toward their retirement plans, the state pension fund wrapped up one of its best performances in the last 25 years. (The Ledger)

New Jersey Republican Christie in Iowa amid 2012 talk, but as potential kingmaker, distraction
DES MOINES, Iowa -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he's not running for president, but he's still leaving an imprint on the 2012 Republican campaign as a potential kingmaker -- and distraction. (AP / Washington Post)

New effort begun to strip pensions from corrupt public officials
In response to scandals in Southern California cities including Bell, a second attempt was launched Friday to pass state legislation that would strip public officials of their pensions if they are convicted of a felony. (Los Angeles Times)

Softer Approach on Pension Problems
Standing before hundreds of state employees at a union meeting in late May, Gina Raimondo warned that Rhode Island's pension system could run out of money unless big cutbacks are made. Then something unusual happened. The workers loudly applauded the 40-year-old Ms. Raimondo, who was elected in November to oversee Rhode Island's $6.4 billion pension fund. "This system as designed today is fundamentally unsustainable, and it is in your best interest to fix it," she said. (Wall Street Journal)

In R.I., 556 retirees collect more than one state-supported benefit
There are 556 people in Rhode Island who collect more than one state-supported pension benefit, ranging from the former judge and state legislator getting $164,795 a year to the retired Smithfield school worker who receives $3,849 a year. (Providence Journal)

Mostly true: R.I. Treasurer Raimondo says 60-year-olds with 401(k)s typically have less than $100,000 in them
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has been leading the drive to overhaul the retirement system for public employees -- with its $7.3-billion unfunded liability -- but has rebuffed calls from some critics to scrap the pension plan altogether. (Politifact)

Opinion: Oregon benefits model politically smart
Two significant developments last week reflect a significant shift in Oregon government: Unionized state workers will be paying a share of health premiums. State negotiators and representatives for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75 reached a tentative deal Tuesday ... State workers will need to shape up or pay more for their health insurance. (Statesman Journal)

Michigan state workers set Monday rally in Detroit
DETROIT -- Some state of Michigan employee unions are planning a rally at a state office building in Detroit. (AP / NECN.com)

For links to more news, views and video, check out The State Worker's Individurls page. To see our vast archive of searchable A.M. Reading headlines, go to Publish2.

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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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