Press Releases

CalSTRS Statement on Proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 Ballot Measure

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to the proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 ballot initiative allowing employers to alter the future retirement benefits of current public employees, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes, issued the following statement:

“This initiative, which raises legal concerns that CalSTRS currently is exploring, threatens the retirement security of existing and future educators, who have provided many years of service to California’s students. 

“California’s educators are overwhelmingly women, do not participate in Social Security, retire on average around age 62, generally do not receive employer-funded health care benefits after age 65, and earn a retirement income that replaces only about 56 percent of their salary. Any further reduction in the already modest benefits of educators significantly jeopardizes decades of hard-earned retirement income California’s teachers have come to depend upon.

“The contributions paid by CalSTRS members, employers and the State are sufficient to cover the ongoing costs of the benefit program. Instead, CalSTRS most pressing issue stems largely from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and remains unresolved. Legislative action to address the CalSTRS $70 billion unfunded liability is still the most fiscally responsible approach needed to uphold the state’s promise to California’s educators. On behalf of CalSTRS, I would like to express profound disappointment that the proponents of the initiative distort this issue to increase uncertainty for public servants about their retirement future.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $165.9 billion as of August 31, 2013, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. For 100 years, CalSTRS has served California’s public school educators and their families, who today number 862,000 from the state’s 1,600 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

   

Is a Texas Enron Billionaire Funding Chuck Reed's Pension Ballot Measure?

To:        Interested Parties
From:    Steven Maviglio, Californians for Retirement Security
Re:        Is a Texas Enron Billionaire Funding Chuck Reed's Pension Ballot Measure?

On KPCC's "Airtalk" radio show this morning (http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/), San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was asked by show host Larry Mantle who is funding his ballot measure to slash retirement benefits for millions of California firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public employees. Specifically, he was asked if Texas Enron billionaire John Arnold, who, according to the Sacramento Bee, already has provided money to Reed for this effort, was going to write checks.

His answer?

"I've never met John Arnold."

Sorry, Mayor Reed. That wasn't the question. But nice dodge.

He also was asked about GOP operative Charles Munger, Jr.'s role in his campaign. He couldn't say the same of him, because he was caught chatting up a storm with him at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford last week. So his answer?

"He's never written a check."

And what about former GOP Chairman Duff Sundheim, who has been active for many years trying to raise money for an anti-pension initiative.

"He's never written a check."

So who's funding Chuck Reed's ballot measure? He won't tell us. 

And the dark money fueling his effort continues to avoid the light of day.

   

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Statement Regarding the Proposed Initiative Attack on Public Employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 17, 2013

CONTACT:
CLARK LEE
909.702.5809
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Los Angeles County Democratic Party Statement Regarding the Proposed Initiative Attack on Public Employees

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric C. Bauman released the following statement regarding San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's statewide initiative proposal attacking public employees:

"Here we go again: another out-of-state right-wing bankrolled full-frontal attack on our public school teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police officers.  This time, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and his extremist friends, like former Enron executive John Arnold of Texas, have gone too far with their proposed initiative that slaps the faces of the hardworking people who have dedicated themselves and, in many cases, risked their lives in serving our communities.  Moreover, Arnold alone has already spent hundreds of thousands of out-of-state dollars on this proposal in our state.

"We can't break our promises to these public servants midway through their careers by changing the rules of the game on their security.  We can't allow another out-of-state extremist scheme assault California's best.  This initiative proposal is inherently unfair, unreasonable, and unwise.  On behalf of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, I urge California voters to reject this initiative proposal." 

   

Chuck Reed's Pension Scheme: The Reaction

October 16, 2013
To: Interested Parties
From: Steven Maviglio, Californians for Retirement Security
Re: Chuck Reed's Pension Scheme: The Reaction

Pundits, state officials, academics, and other community leaders had strong reactions yesterday to a proposal by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and a handful of small city mayors to break the promise made to teachers, firefighters, police officers, school employees, and other public employees about their retirement. Here's a sampling:

Jack Pitney, Clarement McKenna government professor, in the Sacramento Bee:

“It’s an election that Brown is going win by a substantial margin. It’s hard to see an election where the governor wins and voters pass something like this...For the unions it’s Armageddon. For the other side it’s just a video game.”

Bruce Cain, Stanford University, Political Science professor, in the San Jose Mercury News

"You start picking on police and fire, they can sway public opinion, People are grateful to have others willing to put their lives on the line to protect them."

"Poll is Bad News for Reed's Ballot Measure," San Jose Mercury News Political Column, "Internal Affairs" on FM3 (Dave Metz) pension poll:

"The Oct. 7 polling memo showed 63 percent of those surveyed oppose "allowing public employers to unilaterally cut retirement benefits for current employees." Just 33 percent were in support, and only 13 percent "strongly," compared with 43 percent "strongly" opposed. Opposition appeared broad across party, age, gender, racial and geographic lines. What's more, the polling suggested a 44-percent plurality favored maintaining current government worker pensions. A majority favored solving pension matters at the local rather than state level, and through bargaining rather than ballot measures. Whose polling is on the money? ... We have no reason to doubt Metz. Ironically, he's also the fellow who does polling for San Jose on potential tax measures and budget-balancing trade-offs."

CalPERS in Reuters News Service:

"The courts have clearly established that California public employees have a vested right to the level of benefits promised to them when they are first employed. This prevents not only a reduction in the benefits that have already been earned, but it also prevents a reduction in the benefits that an employee has been promised for their future service."

Robert Sapien, San Jose Firefighters Union President, in the San Jose Mercury News:

"After wasting millions on legal fees, all the while knowing that his Measure B was unlawful, Reed now wants to change the Constitution so that he can break promises made to city workers." 

Steve Smith, California Labor Federation, on Capital Public Radio:

“They could undo those promises with a single stroke of the pen unilaterally. They can do it based on a politician’s whims or political agenda.”

# # #

   

Statement on Filing of Pension Measure by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed

Statement of Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security (CRS) on the filing of a ballot measure to slash retirement to California's public employees. CRS is a coalition representing more than 1.6 million teachers, firefighters, police officers, school employees, and other active and retired public employees.

"This extreme proposal, advanced by a career politician and funded by a former Texas-based Enron trader, breaks the promise of a secure retirement made to millions of Californians, many of whom are ineligible for Social Security and have an average pension of $26,000 per year. It will allow public employers to unilaterally cut the retirement benefits promised to current teachers, firefighters, police officers and school bus drivers -- a promise upheld by the Supreme Court that politicians and hedge fund managers want to change to allow employers to reneg on it. 

"If it is put on the ballot, it will energize the same coalition that defeated Proposition 32 by a record margin in 2014. Californians have constantly shown their distaste for measures put on the ballot by Texas interests and secret out-of-state contributors, and we expect this flawed proposal to be no different."

   

Pension Poll Shows Voters Oppose Cutting Existing Pension Benefits, Statewide Ballot Measure

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: David Metz, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates

RE: California Voter Opposition to Cutting Retirement Benefits for Current Employees

DATE: October 14, 2013

_____________________________________

Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates recently conducted a survey of California voters to assess their support for proposed changes to public employee pensions in California.  The survey results show that California voters overwhelmingly oppose the idea of cutting retirement benefits for current public employees, as shown below in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Support for Allowing Public Employers to Unilaterally Cut Retirement Benefits for Current Employees

Inline image 1

Opposition to unilateral cuts in public employee retirement benefits cuts across all segments of the California electorate.  Opponents include:

   

Texas Billionaire John Arnold and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Named "Demon Goats" on www.DontScapegoatUs.com Pension Website

Texas Billionaire John Arnold and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Named "Demon Goats" on www.DontScapegoatUs.com Pension Website
 
SACRAMENTO ­­_ San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Texas billionaire John Arnold, who are backing statewide efforts to slash retirement benefits for millions of Californians, have been named "Demon Goats" on the www.DontScapegoatUs.com website published by Californians for Retirement Security. The coalition represents more than 1.5 million teachers, firefighters, school employees, police officers and other current and retired public employees.
 
Dave Low, chairman of the group, says Reed and Arnold were named because they have stepped up their attacks on the pensions and are targeting current public employees.

Read more: Texas Billionaire John Arnold and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Named "Demon Goats" on www.DontScapegoatUs.com Pension Website

   

Retirement Group Blasts Pension Change Backers for “Hysteria,” Scare Tactics

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Californians for Retirement Security

Retirement Group Blasts Pension Change Backers for “Hysteria,” Scare Tactics
Join LA Mayor Garcetti in refuting ridiculous claims

SACRAMENTO _ A coalition of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees today joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in criticizing an ex-Schwarzenegger aide for suggesting that Los Angeles could face bankruptcy like Detroit.

"California's pension system is in better shape today than when Jerry Brown was Governor 25 years ago," said Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of 1.5 million current and retired employees. "In Los Angeles and more than 400 jurisdictions across the state, public employees are making sacrifices at the bargaining table to help our communities whether difficult economic times cause by Wall Street. It is sad and disappointing that pension bashers have to resort to this type of hysteria to grab headlines.”

Read more: Retirement Group Blasts Pension Change Backers for “Hysteria,” Scare Tactics

   

CalPERS, CalSTRS post double digit investment returns

CalPERS, CalSTRS post double digit investment returns
By Dale Kasler
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Published: Monday, Jul. 15, 2013 - 9:47 am

CalPERS said today it earned 12.5 percent on its investment portfolio in the latest fiscal year, well above its official forecast.

The big pension fund's gains were led by its stock portfolio, which earned a 19 percent return. Real estate earned 11.2 percent and private equity investments earned 13.6 percent.

Meanwhile, CalSTRS said it earned a 13.8 percent return.

Read more: CalPERS, CalSTRS post double digit investment returns

   

Chicken Little Pension CalPERS Claims Aren't Coming Home to Roost

To: Interested Parties
From: Steve Maviglio, Pension Facts
Re: Chicken Little Pension CalPERS Claims Aren't Coming Home to Roost

For several years, Stanford professors paid by special interests and taxpayer "foundations" bankrolled by anti-union donors have attacked public pensions, pointing to their losses over the past few years. Never mind that their "solution" -- 401(k)'s -- performed even worse, losing trillions of dollars.

On Friday, the Sacramento Bee and Reuters reported the news that CalPERS investments hit a record high Friday, erasing every penny of the investment losses it suffered in the market crash last decade.

Says the Bee: “America's largest public pension fund has erased the nearly $97 billion worth of investment losses it suffered in the market crash. Its portfolio swelled to a record $261.7 billion Friday, surpassing the pre-crash high in 2007.

Read more: Chicken Little Pension CalPERS Claims Aren't Coming Home to Roost

   

CRS Statement on Ruling Against Wall Street Creditors in Stockton Bankruptcy Case

For Immediate Release
Monday, April 1, 2013

Following is a statement from Californians for Retirement Security chairman Dave Low on new ruling against Wall Street creditors in Stockton bankruptcy case:

"This ruling once again shows that greed is driving the large Wall Street corporations who in this case sought to further slash retirement security for police and other public employees to better their bottom lines. Ironically, these Wall Street bankers and bond houses are some of the same people who caused the financial crisis that crippled cities like Stockton. Now they want to blame public employees, so they can get more of their money back.

In today's ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein agreed that the Stockton bankruptcy was not driven by pensions, saying a host of decisions and circumstances led to the city's financial woes including developments and tax breaks that could not be sustained because of the housing crisis and recession.

Of the Wall Street creditors, the judge said: "The translation (was that) if you don't intend to impair CalPERS, we're not going to talk to you ... They absented  themselves from all discussions....And, having voted with their feet,  there was no point in talking to them further." According to the Sacramento Bee: "The judge ruled that Stockton had put forth a reasoned effort to resolve its massive fiscal debt but received "nothing but a stonewall on the other side." He also chastised the city's creditors for refusing to pay their required share of costs of pre-bankruptcy mediation, declaring, "The capital market creditors did not negotiate in good faith. And therefore, they do not have the ability to complain."

Read coverage of the ruling at: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/01/5308036/stockton-bankruptcy-challenge.html

   

Boston College Study: Pension “reforms” will offset impact of financial downturn on state, local pension costs

March 12, 20113
For Immediate Release
Californians for Retirement Security


Boston College Study: Pension “reforms” will offset impact of financial downturn on state, local pension costs

SACRAMENTO – A new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says that pension “reforms” made at the state and local level will restore the state’s public pension funds to pre-financial crisis levels.

The study, “State and Local Pension Costs: Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, and Post-Reform,” looked at changes in 32 plans in 15 states (including CalPERS and CalSTRS). It notes that recently-enacted cuts to public employees “will, over time, improve the financial outlook for plans and help ease their impact on other budget priorities.”

Researchers also found “in most cases, reforms fully offset or more than offset the impact of the financial crisis.”

Read more: Boston College Study: Pension “reforms” will offset impact of financial downturn on state, local pension costs

   

CRS Statement on CalPERS 13.3% Gain in 2012

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 14, 2013
Californians for Retirement Security

                                   
CRS Statement on CalPERS 13.3% Gain in 2012

Dave Low, Chair of Californians for Retirement Security, issued the following statement after CalPERS reported a 13.3% gain in invested assets in 2012:

"While these outstanding results should quiet pension critics that use inaccurate numbers and projections for political gain, we continue to believe that it is critical look at the long-term returns of investments by our state's pension systems, not the short-term. California's pension system are strong and will provide retirement security millions of state residents while minimizing taxpayer contributions to keep them adequately funded."

13-01-14/calpers-posts-13-2012-gain-as-stocks-bury-private-equity.html

Please visit www.LetsTalkPensions.com;  "Like" us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LetsTalkPensions); and follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/PensionFacts).

   

Pension Bashers Admit Push to Slash Retirement Security in California has "Gone Flat"

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 14, 2013
Californians for Retirement Security

Pension Bashers Admit Push to Slash Retirement Security in California has "Gone Flat"
Crane, Riordan, Nation Say "Groundswell" is Over on Conservative Website

SACRAMENTO -- For the first time, the state's leading proponents of slashing retirement security are admitting their efforts to privatize public pensions aren’t going anywhere in California.

In an article published in the conservative online magazine Human Events (which also features articles from right-wingers Grover Norquist, Chuck Norris, and Pat Buchanan this week), former Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane, former Los Angeles Mayor Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, and failed congressional candidate and ex-Assermblyman Joe Nation all agree that state and local "reform" efforts are failing for a variety of political and legal reasons.

"Today pension reform gets little notice in California," notes the article. It cites "stiff court challenges" that are scaring off municipal efforts and that statewide legislation and initiatives to reduce retirement security have "stalled out."

Read more: Pension Bashers Admit Push to Slash Retirement Security in California has "Gone Flat"

   

Californians for Retirement Security Statement on Pension Bill Signing

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
For Immediate Release

Statement of Dave Low, Chairman, Californians for Retirement Security, on today's pension bill signing:

"The Governor's signature on this legislation represents a giant step backward for retirement security for California's aging workforce. While we support elements of the package that end pension spiking and other abuses of the system, the new law slashes benefits to pre-Reagan levels with an end-run around collective bargaining. The increase in retirement age will likely result in an increase in workers comp and disability benefits, and will make it increasingly difficult to attract a quality public workers to serve Californians."

   

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