Daniel Borenstein

By Daniel Borenstein, staff columnist
Posted: 03/29/2013 04:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 03/30/2013 03:56:56 PM PDT

That was then, this is now.

When Gov. Jerry Brown signed pension legislation last year, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System applauded the “comprehensive set of reforms.” Its board president, Rob Feckner, said they marked “a more secure era for public pensions.”

This month, CalPERS’ chief actuary told a different story. In a sobering, but commendable, report, Alan Milligan calculates that the nation’s largest pension system faces better-than-even odds of being dangerously underfunded at some point during the next 30 years.

He told the board that CalPERS needs more taxpayer money than previously thought from state and local governments and voiced concern about “slow progress toward full funding.” CalPERS, at last accounting, had about 74 percent of the funds it should.

To understand his proposed rate increase, consider pension costs for the California Highway Patrol. The state is already expected to pay 33 cents for every dollar of payroll in fiscal year 2014-15, and 39 cents by 2018-19.

Under Milligan’s proposal, the rate would reach 44 cents. That’s an overall 33 percent increase over the five-year period, although more than half would happen anyhow.

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