Articles for category State Economy
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has revised the public employee pension ballot measure, tweaking its language to fend off opponents’ criticisms that the proposed constitutional amendment circumvents collective bargaining and guarantees proponents a payday in state-subsidized legal fees to defend the measure if the state attorney general declined to fight lawsuits that would certainly follow the its approval.
“In the last two or three weeks we’ve talked to a lot of people,” Reed said this morning in a telephone interview, including the legislative analyst staff and the attorney general’s office. “Some parts of our measure weren’t clear. So we’re trying to make it clear what our intentions are.”
Union opponents seized on the revision -- and a switch in the lineup of the measure’s proponents -- as a sign that the proposal is in trouble. Among other things, Reed’s proposal would change California’s constitution to allow public employee pensions to be lowered prospectively for current workers. A body of case law appears to make that illegal without another form of compensation to offset that loss.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration Oct. 17 approved an 85 percent premium increase for early purchasers of its Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance Program policies. The increase, to be spread over two years, is being implemented to help stabilize the program’s underlying Long-Term Care Fund and will take effect July 2015.
Members who opt to cover the increase in a single year will pay only 79 percent. Policyholders affected by the increase purchased two types of policies between 1995 and 2004: policies with lifetime benefits with inflation protection, and policies with lifetime benefits without inflation protection (California Partnership policies will be excluded).
CalPERS retirees should do nothing with the letter they received in September asking them whether they want to “opt out” of Medicare Part D, according to CalPERS officials.
CalPERS is converting from the Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidy Program (RDS) to a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) for Medicare-eligible members. Blue Shield and CVS Caremark are administering the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) for CalPERS effective Jan. 1, 2013, and they are responsible for sending the letters.
These plans are Employer Group Waiver Plans (EGWP), governed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The centers require that health plans offer members a choice to opt out of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. This opt-out provision was not a requirement under the Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidy Program.
Lawmakers charged with overhauling California's state and local public pension law are considering a plan to cap defined benefit pensions that would not include a second 401(k)-style component common in so-called "hybrid" retirement plans. "There will be a cap," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, during a hallway press conference this afternoon with Capitol reporters.
The Sacramento Bee
By Rob Feckner
If there is one thing I have learned in my time on the CalPERS board it's this – a little perspective goes a long way. This is especially true when it comes to the news coverage of CalPERS' recently announced investment returns for last fiscal year and the criticism of pensions in municipal bankruptcies. Let me offer a little perspective.
Last fiscal year, CalPERS earned a 1 percent return on our investments. The news has caused some people, including the media, to claim that the sky is falling and to demand that CalPERS "get real" and lower our investment assumptions. A few people have even personally blamed our investment staff.
By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times
Over the past few days, The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey’s system of halfway houses — privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The series is a model of investigative reporting, which everyone should read. But it should also be seen in context. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded.
First of all, about those halfway houses: In 2010, Chris Christie, the state’s governor — who has close personal ties to Community Education Centers, the largest operator of these facilities, and who once worked as a lobbyist for the firm — described the company’s operations as “representing the very best of the human spirit.” But The Times’s reports instead portray something closer to hell on earth — an understaffed, poorly run system, with a demoralized work force, from which the most dangerous individuals often escape to wreak havoc, while relatively mild offenders face terror and abuse at the hands of other inmates.
State Worker Sacramento Bee June 21, 2012
The Brown administration has put out the word: Departments, get ready to whack your working retirees.
The official term for the 5,800 or so state workers who draw both a pension and a paycheck is "retired annuitants." Sometimes they're tagged "double dippers." State workers occasionally refer to them as "retired irritants."
Gov. Jerry Brown has departments thinking about how to eliminate all retired annuitants except those in "mission critical" jobs. The idea enjoys near-universal acclaim.
Still, there are some holes in the arguments of the various proponents.
When the nation's second largest purchaser of health care gets socked with a big rate hike, lots of people pay the price.
CalPERS' governing board approved an average 9.5 percent increase in premiums Wednesday, a move that will hurt taxpayers and public employees statewide. Given CalPERS' size and influence, it could affect health care premiums in the private sector, too.
The new rates will cost the average CalPERS member an extra $30 a month starting in January. State and local agencies will pay millions more, too.
"That is a lot," said Paul Ginsburg, who runs a health care think tank in Washington, reacting to CalPERS' announcement.
CalPERS today approved a roughly 9.5 percent increase in health insurance premiums. The pension fund's governing board voted unanimously to approve the increase, which will cost the average CalPERS member another $30 a month in premiums. The increase takes effect Jan. 1.
It represents one of the biggest increases in years for CalPERS, which covers 1.3 million public workers and retirees and is one of the largest purchasers of the health care in the nation.
As Friday's state budget deadline approaches, a little-noticed provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal would cut off thousands of retirees who return to work for the state.
The idea targets all but the most essential of the state's so-called "retired annuitants," a group of about 5,800 workers who drew $110 million in pay from the state last year on top of their pensions.
The Democratic governor's proposal could strike a chord with taxpayers by appearing to crack down on double-dipping. It also appeals to public employee unions – which want to eliminate jobs they believe stunt the growth of the regular workforce – at the same time he's asking union workers to accept furloughs and a 5 percent pay cut.