Leaving Our Children a Financially Fit California

Chris Chiang supports all of Governor Brown’s twelve point pension reform plan.
The governor’s plan is a blended system that makes public pensions mirror the very best private sector plans (similar to what federal government workers receive). As a Democrat, Chris will work hard to get more of his party to back the governor. These bold reforms need two thirds of the legislature, so it is encouraging that 36 Republicans lawmakers support the plan, but unacceptable that the governor’s own party may halt reform.

Chris believes that in addition to the governor’s pension reform, the state should create an extra option to let safety workers and teacher pay more  if they wish to retire before social security eligibility.

Pension reform is directly connected Chris’s plans for school reform. Up to 1/2 our teachers quit in 5 years. Our pension system has benefited from this turnover (it takes 5 years for a teacher’s pension to become vested). A lifelong teaching force is the bedrock to the success of world leading education systems like Singapore and Finland. We need a pension system that can sustain such school reform here in California.

What the state does with state worker pensions influences what cities can do with their pensions.  Members of both parties  created this mess when they passed fiscally unsound pension legislation during the Dot-com Bubble . Practices like retirement pay spikes are unfair to taxpayers and take away from current public servants. Chris is an economics teacher, and the first thing he teaches his students is that with every economic expansion, a retraction is inevitable.

Felons Forfeit State Pensions if the Crime is Job Related
An example of our Democratic governor focusing on policy regardless of party is the part of his plan proposing felon pension forfeiture.  In the past, Republican Senator Tony Strickland proposed the same thing in SB 115 in which any state worker (like a teacher) would lose their state pension for a felony committed on the job. Not a single Democratic Senator voted for this. Chris, a Democrat supports this bill. A job related felony committed by a state worker goes beyond the crime itself, they cost the government its public trust.

It’s Unfair that Newer State Workers Have to Pay for the Excesses of their Colleagues
Chris Chiang supports and honors the overwhelming majority of state workers whose pensions are modest and well earned. Only 2% of state workers have pensions over $100,000. It is unfair to attack the public servants that currently work to serve the people to benefit the small few who took far more from the public than they gave in service. The nine thousand state retirees who have pensions over $100,000 a year add up to over one billion dollars. For that minority who receive these outlandish pensions, Chris will work tirelessly to ensure those funds are one day recouped through taxes and set aside to directly replenish the very pension fund their excesses threaten.

Chris Chiang will also lobby California’s congressional delegation to amend HR 394, the law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that prohibited states from taxing the pensions of California state workers who move outside of the state. Currently, in-state retirees do have to pay taxes. That’s not fair.  Chris simply wants the state to have a means to recoup from the small few that receive oversized benefits. The current approach of punishing current state workers for the excesses of past state workers demoralizes and disrespects the reality that current state workers do a harder job with less support than ever before.

Top 10 Pensions in the State

Name Monthly Annual Employer
MALKENHORST, BRUCE $42,472.05 $509,664.60 VERNON
FUSTER, JOAQUIN $25,207.66 $302,491.92 UC LOS ANGELES
GERTH, DONALD $23,635.76 $283,629.12 CSU SACRAMENTO
GARRETT, WILLIAM $23,191.02 $278,292.24 EL CAJON
STAHL, JAMES $22,587.99 $271,055.88 L A CO SANIT #2
SCHLAG, JOHN $21,725.87 $260,710.44 UC LOS ANGELES
SCHACHTER, JULIUS $21,199.31 $254,391.72 UC SAN FRANCISC
METTE, DONALD $20,083.31 $240,999.72 SACRAMENTO METR
TOONE, ROBERT $19,800.53 $237,606.36 PALMDALE
OKI, DIANNE $19,648.82 $235,785.84 STATE COMP IN

Source: California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility
(a conservative special interest group)

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