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Californians for Retirement Security Key Points

The notion that all public workers are collecting fat pensions is simply not true.
Headlines that public servants enjoy lavish, taxpayer-funded pensions are misleading and wrong. Those who teach our children, protect our families and help keep your cities and state clean and safe live on modest, and often meager, wages and pensions.

The average public pension in California is $26,000 a year. Three-quarters of CalPERS retirees collect yearly pensions of $36,000 or less. California retired teachers, who do not collect Social Security, earn an average $3,300-a-month after an average 27 years in the classroom.

The headline-grabbing pensions topping $100,000, sensationalized by pension busters, amount to less than 2 percent of public pensions.

Politically motivated and ill-considered proposals to gut public pensions will not fix local and state budgets, and instead will likely cost taxpayers more.
Public employee pensions amount to just three percent of California's budget. Overhauling California's public pension system will not make a dent in the state's current budget shortfall.

Independent analyses of some of the growing number of politically motivated pension busting proposals find they likely will create additional demand on government-provided social services and carry unknown costs in the short-run.

Ballot box proposals to gut pensions will not prevent pink slips.
Claims that pensions are bankrupting state government and that pension plans are poorly run and headed for Armageddon are flat wrong. The state pays less as a percentage of payroll for pensions today than it did in 1980.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System posted a solid 12.2 percent return at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year and earned 12.7 percent in calendar year 2010. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010, the California Public Employees' Retirement System earned a 13.3 percent return.

Public employees have been willing participants in helping fix California's budget woes.
Public employees unequivocally support fair efforts to clamp down on fraud and abuse.

Overall, California public employees’ contributions to their pensions have climbed from 5 percent to 7 to up to 11 percent.

Formulas for calculating pensions have been reduced and stringent new rules are being established to eliminate abuses like spiking. In all, such changes – made through collective bargaining – have reduced state pension costs by $570 million over the past two years.

According to data kept by CalPERS, in nearly 180 California cities, counties and local districts, firefighters, police, teachers and other public employees have agreed to increase employee pension contributions and lower public costs.

CalSTRS employer, employee and state contribution rates are set by the Legislature and have been stable for employees and employers for the past 25 years. The State reduced their payment to CalSTRS from 4.607 percent to 2.017 percent at the turn of the century, which has saved the state more than $3 billion over the past decade.

Meanwhile, these same public employees have been victim to a ruthless public relations campaign attacking them at the same time they are strapped by furloughs, docked pay and pink slips. They dedicate their careers to serving the public for pay that pales in comparison to what they might earn in the private sector. They volunteer and contribute in their communities even after they retire.

Out-of-state billionaires and right-wing extremists with Tea Party ties are driving this assault on California's middle class.
Decisions concerning retirement security for California's public employees should be made at the bargaining table, when applicable. The answer is not allowing out-of-state billionaires to swoop in and change California's constitution to force public workers into risky 401k retirement plans like those that have left private sector workers fearing for their families' futures.

Groups with links to the Tea Party and the corporate interests that caused the economic collapse plaguing California – as well as groups masquerading as legitimate foundations who are unwilling to reveal their bankrollers - are behind efforts to scapegoat public employees in California and across the nation.

Public retirement benefits boost our economy and create jobs.
Our pensions and pension fund investments create jobs and bring into our local communities billions of dollars that are vital to the economy.

A study commissioned by CalSTRS found that benefits paid to retired educators amount to an economic engine across California, especially in rural counties that have suffered dramatically from the collapsed economy. A California State University, Sacramento, study concluded that the California economy gained $6.71 for every single dollar invested in pensions by employers and taxpayers.

CalPERS recently reported that its $17 billion in investments reflect nearly 1 million jobs. Its $1 billion California Initiative Program alone has investments in 117 California companies employing 17,000 workers statewide, most in low- and middle-income areas.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association