Are Public Pensions Fair


by Lou Binninger

How much should a worker collect in retirement? You shouldn’t care if it’s not your money. If someone worked harder, invested smarter, lived frugally, then they may be much better off than others when dialing work back.

When it comes to retirement in the private sector, you set-aside some of your earnings each month in savings, mutual funds or some kind of investment that will increase in value. When retiring you hope for sufficient monies to meet your needs.

            The idea of course is that you should not have the expenses in your 60s and beyond that you had in your child-rearing and home-buying years.  Most private sector workers supplement their savings with a social security check. They adjust to how much or how little they have. That’s life.

            When it comes to government employees should you care or even have a say as a taxpayer in how much they collect in retirement. Again, if their contribution to their own fund did well then who should care? However, that’s where the government pension system goes off the logic rails. Private sector workers are also paying the pensions of public employees.

            Not only does the government employee not pay all the funds of their own pension but they are guaranteed a defined amount per month upon retirement regardless of how the investments fare. That’s pension nirvana.  And it is on the backs of future taxpayers to pay more and more taxes and be responsible for loans to cover deficits created by the guarantees of politicians to future retirees.

            Politicians are beholden to those unions bosses and union employees to get elected rather than to the taxpayers who actually pay the pension bills. When there are labor negotiations with union representatives the taxpayer does not have a seat at the table nor do citizens vote on any salaries of any workers or elected officials in the county or jurisdiction.

            Last year, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) issued 30,969 pension checks of $100,000 or more on an annualized basis, according to

            The 2018 data reveals that CalPERS is currently paying over $23 billion annually in pension benefits, 17 percent of which will go towards those receiving annualized pensions of $100,000 or more.

The growing number of $100K-plus pensions reflects an increase in newer retirees who benefited from the pension enhancements passed in 1999 and 2001. As noted by reporter Ed Mendel of, union controlled CalPERS lobbied the legislature for these enhancements by falsely claiming that they would not cost “a dime of additional taxpayer money.”

These enhancements are part of the reason that governments in this state are actually bankrupt and are using short-term borrowing and local tax increases to postpone going into receivership. The truth is that the state pension system is nonsensical, unaffordable and corrupt.

The average 2018 annualized pension for general retirees was (state - $63,057, local $74,599) and for police /fire (state - $74,599, local $108,320). Since you citizens are paying for it how does it feel?

If employees invested in their own retirement fund, when they retired the taxpayer would have no liability for them, but that is not how it works. Yuba County is short a shocking $147 million to cover what they owe to employees via CalPERS. And, the County needs to prepare for a 64% increase in pension costs over the next 5-6 years. That debt or liability is coming out of the general fund affecting all services.

If you had to come up with a 64% increase in your house or car payment, for health insurance, or school tuition what would you do? You would be downsizing and drastically changing your future.

County leaders would not tell the truth of the pension catastrophe choosing instead to spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to deceive voters that Measure K was all about public safety. Now county-hired attorneys are defending Measure K in court saying it had nothing to do with public safety. They are liars.

If Measure K was advertised as a tax increase to put-off bankruptcy for a few years due to a pension fiasco it would have never passed. Supervisors / water agency directors also kept other revenue streams on the low to not undermine their public safety scare campaign. The voters could not be trusted with transparency and the truth.

Don’t try this at home or at work. You may end up divorced or in jail.