What happens when public officials buy current labor peace by promising things that someone else is supposed to deliver down the road? Nothing good.
The average retirement payout for new retirees in California’s biggest public pension system doubled between 1999 and 2012, according to CalPERS data, and initial monthly payments for one group nearly tripled in that period.
State and local cops and firefighters benefited the most.
In the 14 years covered by the data analyzed by The Sacramento Bee, average first-month pensions to state police and firefighters went from $1,770 to $4,978. California Highway Patrol officers’ first-month retirement payments doubled from $3,633 to $7,418, and local government safety employees’ pensions went from $3,296 to $6,867.
The figures from CalPERS’ internal annual reports, obtained by The Bee through a Public Records Act request, show how upgraded pension formulas that became fashionable during the late 1990s and early 2000s amplified the impact of pay raises to boost retirement allowances.
The findings also illustrate the slow-motion impact of pension changes, whether enhancements approved years ago or rollbacks launched this year.
“These numbers indicate the cost of benefits given away a decade ago are finally coming home to roost,” said Dan Pellissier, a pension-reform advocate who tried and failed to put a measure before voters last year to roll back pensions. “We’re finally having to pay the pension piper.”