The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 15, 2012
CalPERS: Jerry Brown's hybrid pension plan won't significantly cut state's costs

Thumbnail image for 100607 CALPERS HQ.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's proposal to put future state and local government employees into hybrid retirement plans won't significantly cut the state's pension costs and could cost some employers more than their current defined benefit plans, the California Public Employees' Retirement System said in an analysis released Tuesday afternoon.

"For school employers, cost savings are expected to be 2 percent of payroll, while local public agencies will vary but are expected to be greater than the State overall," CalPERS staff analysis concluded, while employers' cost for safety workers' pensions would increase.

The fund confirmed that the governor's plan would lower benefits for new workers and shift more risk from employers to employees. Brown and other pension reformers have argued that both need to happen.

The report, requested by the Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions, didn't consider administrative costs to manage a hybrid plan or to possibly close current defined benefit plans. It used two hypothetical retiring employees to illustrate how a hybrid plan would work:

As directed by the Committee staff, the hypothetical member is someone hired at age 32 that will eventually retire at age 67 for miscellaneous members and hired at age 27 that retires at age 57 for safety members.

Brown's goal is for a hybrid system that combines retirement income streams aiming to total 75 percent of an employee's income averaged over his or her final three work years. For miscellaneous workers, Brown's proposal envisions 25 percent coming from a 401(k)-type savings account, 25 percent from a defined benefit and 25 percent from Social Security.

Safety workers who don't pay into Social Security would receive 50 percent from a defined benefit. Hybrid pensions for the California Peace Officer Fire Fighter group would cost the state 2.1 percent more, CalPERS concluded.

Some links for those who want to dive into the deep end of the public-pension debate pool:

The CalPERS hybrid cost analysis
Hybrid Actuarial Analysis 2. 2012.docx
Summary of Gov. Jerry Brown's 12-point pension reform plan
Bill language of Brown's 12-point pension reform plan

PHOTO: CalPERS headquarters. Sacramento Bee photo.

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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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