The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 22, 2011
A.M. Reading: W. Va. pension cuts; CalSTRS' 'spiking' measures; federal policy affects investments; D.C. lawmakers' bennies

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifState plans to cut benefits
CHARLESTON -- The state has informed several Mountain Line Transit Authority employees that it will no longer accept their pension contributions -- and there are also plans to cut off their retirement benefits, according to a Monongalia County commissioner. The county, Mountain Line and the employees are preparing litigation to request an injunction on the state's plans until a judge can review the case, said Asel Kennedy, commission president. Papers could be filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court as early as Monday. (Associated Press / Charleston Daily Mail)

Matier & Ross: Inside story on state consumer-safety czar job
Talk about an inside job. The state Public Utilities Commission is looking for a new consumer protection and safety director. But to apply for the $134,640-a-year job, you need to have been either:

-- A California civil servant.
-- An employee of the state Legislature.
-- An employee of the governor's office.
-- Or a military veteran.

Interesting criteria, considering the commission is supposedly looking for someone who "will lead a change in the culture and practice of the division."

Another View: CalSTRS has safeguards to deal with pension spiking
CalSTRS' efforts to guard against pension spiking have recently been mischaracterized or overlooked. (Sacramento Bee)

Napa State patient to stand trial for attempted murder
A 31-year-old former Napa State Hospital patient was held for trial Friday for allegedly attacking his roommate in May, punching and kicking the other man repeatedly in the face, leaving him bloodied and unconscious. Napa County Superior Court Judge Francisca Tischer ruled there was probable cause to believe Victor Mandujano committed attempted murder and other crimes. She bound him over for trial. (Napa Valley Register)

From the Executive Editor: Public's money spent in secret by Assembly
I didn't realize we were making history when The Bee and Los Angeles Times joined forces to sue the state Assembly to force disclosure of documents detailing its spending. We simply believe these documents are public under the Legislative Public Records Act. (Sacramento Bee)

After 3 years, Vallejo emerging from bankruptcy
VALLEJO, Calif. -- City Councilwoman Marti Brown was euphoric when she learned this historic Northern California town had received federal court approval for its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. For three years it has had the dubious distinction of being among the nation's largest bankrupt burgs. ... Last month, a federal judge approved Vallejo's $50 million debt-restructuring plan, which included lower interest payments to creditors, leaner employee contracts and reduced benefits to retirees, who now must pay more for their health plans. (Associated Press / Sacramento Bee)

New leader implements big changes in California National Guard
Adjutant General David S. Baldwin returned in April from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to lead the California National Guard - and inherited a force plagued by mismanagement and freighted with scandal. (Sacramento Bee)

O.C. cities reeling from revenue loss, public safety costs
Spiraling public safety costs and plummeting revenues have pushed Orange County cities to the brink. Many can't pay their bills without raiding their reserves, an analysis by the Orange County Register has found. The Register also found that the unfunded portion of accrued pension and health care costs for Orange County and its cities now total $8.75 billion - boosted by the cost of retirement for police officers and firefighters. (Orange County Register)

Living in a Low-Rate World
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has put the financial world on notice: Brace for two more years of rock-bottom interest rates. That is great news for borrowers, but it promises rough going for anyone seeking returns from fixed-income investments--from retirees to giant pension funds to companies sitting on record amounts of cash. (Wall Street Journal)

Jane Carter: KPERS is best plan for taxpayers, employees
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System was enacted 50 years ago this year. It has experienced ups and downs through the years but remained a healthy fund overall -- that is, until the past decade. For 50 years, Kansas public employees have contributed to the KPERS fund, never missing or shortchanging a payment. But since 1993, it has been Kansas law for the Legislature to underfund the retirements of Kansas' public employees. (Wichita Eagle)

Opinion: Justice Rules in Records Debate
McAlester's own state Supreme Court justice recently went against the majority on the high court, which consists of some of the sharpest legal minds in Oklahoma. We couldn't be more proud. (McAlester News-Capital)

W.Va. agencies look to cloud computing as IT solution
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Office of Technology is examining a new way to deliver subscription-based software, document management and data storage services to state government agencies whose workers would tap into the "cloud computing" network via the Internet. (Charleston Gazette)

LePage seeks boost for retirees by ending pension taxes
AUGUSTA - Gov. Paul LePage wants Mainers to call their lawmakers to encourage them to eliminate the income tax on pensions, to help low-income elderly residents and to lure back wealthy retirees who spend just over six months out of state to avoid Maine taxes. (Portland Press Herald)

Politics of PERS could be problem for GOP
Gov. Haley Barbour is the best political tactician I have ever known. He knows his voters and he knows how to push their buttons to get them to push the button for Republican candidates. But, I think he may be slipping a bit lately. Those who look to Father Haley to lead them down the right political path might walk off a cliff over a seemingly harmless issue. Last week, Barbour announced the formation of a commission to study and make recommendations about the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System. (Clarion Ledger)

When will politicians start paying for benefits?
I had the opportunity to get a private tour of our Capitol in Washington, D.C. recently. What an eye opener. Did you know that every politician is driven around in a fleet of Chevrolet Suburbans, paid by taxpayers' money? Did you know they have a free pharmacy and two surgical operating rooms that are staffed by Navy doctors for free? Did you know they have free eye exams and dental, all paid by the taxpayer? Here is the biggest joke: There is a built-in pool at the Capitol. Guess who pays for that? Oh, let's not forget the free pension they receive for life that is paid by the taxpayers. (Asbury Park Press)

For links in 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


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