The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 15, 2012
Column Extra: The fiscal, political pressure on retiree health care

ha_pres_obama34203-thumb-300x234-19600.jpegWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee looks at an item on Gov. Jerry Brown's unfinished business list: cutting the cost of state retiree health benefits.

If you haven't read the column, check it out and then go through these links to dive more deeply into several points it touches on:

California State Controller John Chiang's estimate that the state's unfunded retiree health care obligations stand at about $62 billion.

The in-depth look at the unfunded liability from Chicago-based actuarial firm Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company. (Includes estimated savings from prefunding a portion or all of anticipated retiree health care costs and which state worker unions have started paying ahead.)

Brown's original February proposal to alter public pensions and state retiree health benefits for future hires. (The health benefits language starts on page 20. It would not have affected current retirees or employees hired before Jan. 1, 2013.)

Kaiser Family Foundation statistics on private-sector retiree health benefits. (Scroll down to page 173 of the document to see industry comparisons.)

Documents obtained by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that reveal how the Obama administration was prepared to cut military retiree health care benefits to reach a budget compromise with Capitol Hill Republicans.

Illinois Senate Bill 1313, which requires retired state workers who previously received 100 health coverage to begin paying a percentage of their premiums.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks at Solyndra Inc. in Fremont on Wednesday, May 26, 2010. / Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.

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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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