David Crane Breaks it Down in Layman’s Terms, Public Employee Pension Benefits, General Funds, Special Funds, Non-discretionary, Fiscally-protected and Discretionary

David Crane has a new piece cross posted today at Fox and Hounds Daily and on Advancing a New Society
The title, With Retirement Costs Consuming One-Fifth of Discretionary Spending, California Must Reduce Un-Accrued Pension Benefits makes the point plain and simple. Then Crane breaks it down, for those who don’t understand the distinctions of public finance funds, budgets, and projections.

He breaks public funds down into categories, and even provides a chart for those of us who love graphics to help drive a point home.

Pensions and other retirement costs will consume more than 23% of discretionary state spending in fiscal year 2012-13, according to the budget recently passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown – nearly three times the share taken up by retirement costs just ten years ago.

For Californians, rapid growth in retirement costs has meant less money for universities, parks, courts and other services as well as a temporary tax increase in 2009 and another being proposed currently (one of three proposed tax increases on the November ballot – Propositions 30, 38 & 39). In the absence of reform, that share will grow, which means even more taxes and fewer services.

California’s general and special fund spending for 2012-13 is budgeted at $131 billion and effectively fits into three categories: Non-discretionary, Fiscally-protected and Discretionary.

Allow me to explain all three in layman’s terms:  (click here to go to Fox and Hound to read the full article)

Marcia Fritz, Fix Pensions Now: “We Can’t Afford to Party Like it’s 1999,” Joins Gadfly Radio to talk Dollars and Sense

Tuesday, June 19, on Gadfly RadioMarcia Fritz, C.P.A., and an active voice for Fix Pensions First | FixPensionsFirst.com, joins Martha Montelongo, with CalWatchDog‘s managing editor, John Seiler, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal.

Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on CRNtalk.com or on USTREAM TV’s CRNStudioLive!”

Related links for the show:
Viewpoints: When it comes to pensions, we can’t afford to party like it’s 1999 | Fix Pensions First

April 16th

By Marcia Fritz

The Legislature has until June 28 to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require all state and local government employees to contribute one-half the cost of their pensions. Future employees would be eligible for a hybrid plan that includes a defined benefit (pension) component, but with limits. The balance of the governor’s plan can be enacted through legislation.

Paying half of pension costs won’t be a shock to teachers and state employees – most pay half or close to half today. But thousands of local government employees retire at 55, collect six-figure pensions and lifetime health care benefits, and contribute nothing to their retirement plans.

Voters douse most tax-increase fires | CalWatchDog
June 15, 2012

By Dave Roberts

“…Despite fire tax proponents spending $177,000 (to zero spending by opponents), the tax hike failed to gain a majority of the vote, let alone the two-thirds required to pass.

It was always going to be a tough sell asking for an additional $2,200 per home over 10 years when most people have lost 39 percent of their net worth in the last three years and many are still staggering from the aftershocks of the Great Recession. But the district board decided to go for it anyway, doing the bidding of the firefighters union as it seeks to increase salaries, benefits and jobs.

Fire tax hikes were not that popular throughout the state. In addition to the failure of the East Contra Costa tax hike, a $100 tax hike in Higgins, a $40 hike in North Auburn-Ophir, a $79 tax in Placer Hills and a $59 tax in Crest all failed.

There were two successful fire tax measures: a $150 tax in Newcastle and a four-year extension of a $65 tax in San Mateo County.

Steven Greenhut: ‘Reforms’ will raise California taxes | The Orange County Register
June 16, 2012
By Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO – God help California from its current crop of wealthy “moderates” who believe that the only thing that will save our state is a dose of higher taxes. They continue to embrace electoral rule changes that ultimately will undermine the Republicans’ supposedly hard line against tax hikes.June 5 saw was the first election to use the “top two” primary system, a form of open primary designed specifically to elect more candidates who resemble former state Sen. Abel Maldonado and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the two politicians most responsible for its implementation. These are two of the least-effective and least-principled Republicans to attain higher office in recent years, so let this serve as a warning about what is to come.

The emerging California Fusion Party | CalWatchDog
By Wayne Lusvardi
June 18, 2012

Political fusion is an arrangement where two parties on a ballot list the same candidate. Fusion has been outlawed in many states.

A version of fusionism emerging in California is this under the new Top Two system, which voters approved under Proposition 14 back in 2010. The majority party floods election ballots with at least two of its candidates. Then it only allows the minority party to influence election results by endorsing one of the major party’s candidates. Another name for political fusion is cross-endorsement…

Now, the Union Pushback: Following big victories for public-pension reform in California, the union empire takes to the courts.
by Steven Greenhut – City Journal
June 12, 2012

The nation’s public-sector unions have become so emboldened by years of political victories, and so insulated from voter concerns, that they apparently never considered the possibility that voters, given a clear choice, would turn against them. Last Tuesday was as close as the nation gets to a clarifying election, the result of union overreach in Wisconsin and union intransigence in California. “Election results in California and Wisconsin this week are being viewed as a turning point for organized labor—to its detriment,” reported the Los Angeles Times, echoing a story line repeated nationwide.

In Tweet if You Love Pension Reform, June 7 in Fox & Hound, Marcia Fritz pitches a Hail Mary pass, a last ditch effort to get the CA Legislature to do the right thing

Fix Pensions First Launches an Urgent Twitter Campaign, and invites everyone to participate. They’ll give you critical facts in small daily doses, so you don’t get blown away, and so you can be compelled to be a part of a last ditch effort to reform pensions at the state level, before it’s too late.

Follow @FixPensions. Take 10 seconds to consider the information on your screen and another 10 seconds to share it. Twitter will take care of the rest.


The legislature has until June 28 to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to require public employees to pay half the cost of their pensions, link state retirement ages with federal retirement ages and provide retirement plans to future employees that share the risk of investment losses with taxpayers.

Click here to read the full piece, and see the dramatic graphs to drive home the urgency of this reform critical reform measure.

And Now Act 2 of the Dramatic Situation Between the Runnaway Train, i.e. the Public Sector Union’s Crushing Weight on California & the Battle for Reform

Here’s a link and a excerpt: San Jose’s mayor addresses legal challenges – Public Sector Inc. Forum
By Steven Greenhut on June 6

Pull Quote:

San Jose’s unions didn’t really fight the Measure B pension reform that passed with 70 percent of the vote Tuesday, but they did immediately file a legal challenge. Here is Mayor Chuck Reed’s response to claims that the reform he championed isn’t legal:
“Measure B was carefully crafted to follow California law. San Jose is a charter city and the California Constitution gives charter cities: ‘plenary authority’ to provide in their charters for the compensation of their employees. i San Jose’s City Charter reserves the right of the City Council and the voters to make changes to employees’ retirement benefits: ‘.. the Council may at any time, or from time to time, amend or otherwise change any retirement plan or plans or adopt or establish a new or different plan or plans for all or any officers or employees.’ ii San Jose’s…

Desperate Means to Stop a Bellwether Measure

Steven Greenhut
Reform by Any Other Name
Call it “modification” if you prefer—but San Jose’s pension initiative will be a national bellwether.
17 April 2012

San Jose union officials are celebrating a decision last week by the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which struck some city-drafted language from a June ballot measure designed to reduce pension benefits for newly hired city workers and require existing workers either to pay more for their current pension plan or switch to a lower-benefit plan. But the three-judge panel’s unanimous verdict will do little to affect the ultimate outcome of the pension measure and much to remind the public of the lengths to which the state’s public-sector unions will go to resist any reform—and keep voters from having a say. (Click to read more)

David v Goliath in San Diego in June’s CA Primary

Public Enemy Number One
San Diego’s Carl DeMaio puts pension reform center stage—and himself in union crosshairs.
19 April 2012

In 1978, Howard Jarvis launched the U.S. anti-tax movement in California with Proposition 13, which capped annual increases in property taxes and kept people from being forced from their homes during real-estate bubbles. A generation later, the Golden State could be on the brink of launching another populist movement, one driven by anger over government compensation practices. A key battleground is San Diego. In June, voters will decide on Proposition B, the Comprehensive Pension Reform Initiative. It would end defined-benefit pensions for all new city hires except for police officers, instead providing pensions similar to 401(k)s. It would prevent pay sweeteners from being added to base salary when calculating pensions, and it would require city workers to pay a bigger share of their pension costs. Finally, Prop. B would mandate a five-year salary freeze. (Click to read more)