August 15, 2014

For those readers of Dan Borenstein's column we offer a few words of caution about his latest editorial, "CalPERS prepares to undermine statewide pension changes." The anti-spiking provisions of the new pension reform laws are not being changed and will remain completely intact. These include laws that require pensions to be based on the average of a person's last three years of final compensation, a cap on final compensation that can be used to calculate pension benefits, and the prohibition against adding things like vacation balances to final compensation totals in order to pad a pension. This last provision CalPERS eliminated was in 1993, over twenty years ago - hardly the action of an institution with the intent to undermine. The question now is how unique compensation should be treated for new employees. CalPERS has approached this issue with full transparency and sought stakeholder input along the way, including employee and employer feedback. The purpose of the public hearing next week is to seek even greater input on what compensation should and should not be counted toward pensions. While reasonable people (including Dan Borenstein) may disagree about what aspects of a public servant’s compensation should count toward a pension, Borenstein should stick to the facts and not try to inflame his readers with inaccurate terms like "pension spiking." Pay for a service is still compensation at the end of the day. Our staff made a recommendation based on a good faith interpretation of the law. If changes need to be made, we welcome the public’s input.

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