Looking to highlight the impact public employee pensions have on the state's economy, an association of 31,000 retired state employees is turning to thousands of little blue stickers.
The California State Employees Association Retirees plans to distribute 100,000 stickers that say "Paid By State Retiree" for its members to affix to checks, bills and other paper forms of payment to state merchants.
"We have always known that the retirement incomes of our members help strengthen the economy wherever they may live," Roger Marxen, president of CSEA Retirees, said in a statement. "These stickers are a friendly reminder that state retirees are your tax-paying neighbors who are not to blame for the state's budget woes. In fact, state retirees help strengthen our economy."
The idea to leave a trail of the impact that state pensions have on local economies started with the Sacramento chapter, which recently made an initial order of 10,000 round, finger-width stickers. Most of those have already been given to some of the chapter's 6,000 members.
Fritz Walgenbach, president of the Sacramento chapter, said he's failed for years to persuade the statewide organization to try out the sticker idea.
"So eventually I said, 'Screw it. If they're not going to pick it up, I'll do it,' " Walgenbach said.
State officials agreed that it was a good idea after they saw it in print, he said.
The larger order of stickers will be divided among 300 statewide delegates in August, who then will hand them off to local chapters.
"We hope between August and September that we can flood the whole state," Walgenbach said.
A CalPERS-commissioned study released this week found $1.3 billion in pension payments to 43,100 retirees in Sacramento County generated about $2.5 billion in economic activity in 2010. Statewide, the study concluded that the payments left a $26 billion footprint.