October 26, 2009
Office of Public Affairs
Pat Macht, Director, External Affairs
Contact: Brad Pacheco, Chief
CalPERS Responds to Emerging Issues Via New Website
SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has launched CalPERSResponds.com – a new website dedicated to educating its members, employers and stakeholders about emerging issues including pension security, investments and national health care reform.
The new website also serves as a platform for CalPERS social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“There’s a lot of information and misinformation about CalPERS,” said Patricia K. Macht, CalPERS Director of External Affairs. “We hope this site will help separate the facts from fiction and provide some education, insight and clarity to these issues.”
CalPERS Responds.com is also home to Insight, a new video program that highlights conversations with CalPERS leaders on key issues.
In a recent interview, CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear talked about the recovery of the investment portfolio and the importance of financial market reforms.
“We’ve moved up from the bottom in March 2009. At about $160 billion dollars to just above $200 billion dollars, which is a $40 billion dollar improvement in the portfolio,” said Dear. “We can’t forget the consequences of the failure of the regulatory system and its contribution to the devastating losses that all investors suffered. We need to strengthen the regulatory agencies and give them independence. We need regulators that have the skill that are empowered and motivated to protect the public interest. And secondly we need to close the gaps in the regulatory system. When these systems fail, it’s not just investors who suffer, its ordinary working men and women and their roles as taxpayers.
CalPERS also debunks the common myths associated with public pensions with facts, including:
The average CalPERS pension is about $25,000 per year. Half of CalPERS retirees receive $16,000 per year or less in benefits. Unlike the private sector, many CalPERS members do not receive Social Security, making their CalPERS pension their sole source of pension income, other than savings.
Only 1 percent of the nearly half million CalPERS retirees receive annual pensions of $100,000 or more. Many are retired non-unionized or specialized skilled employees or other high wage earners who worked 30 years or more. Many served in high-level management positions.
The downturn in the markets is the cause of greater employer contributions. Even if changes to pension formulas did not exist, CalPERS would need more contributions from employers, due to market losses over the past year.
CalPERS spends about $5.7 billion a year to provide health care. Costs have risen in the last few years and our economic recession is amplifying the impact on the health care marketplace. Since 2003, health premiums have risen by more than 60 percent. National health care reform can bring about systemic changes that make health care affordable for our employers and our members.
“Retirees need to know that the security of their benefit checks is without question,” added Dear in his Insight interview. “Our assets are more than sufficient to make those payments and that we’re positioned for long term growth. And our ability to earn the seven and three quarter’s percent over the long-term, is without question going to be done.”
CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in the U.S. It administers retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million active and retired State, public school, and local public agency employees and their families on behalf of 2,600 California public employers, and health benefits for nearly 1.3 million members.