Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 – 12:00 am

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez summoned reporters to the Capitol last week to unveil what he called a “blueprint for a responsible budget.”

Pérez stressed his intent to create a reserve against future economic downturns and while the outline included billions of dollars in additional spending, mostly on education, health and welfare services, he didn’t let that word cross his lips, instead calling it “investment.”

When Pérez had finished his presentation, reporters asked questions, and one of them was whether his concept included any money to ease ever-increasing deficits in the teacher retirement system and mounting obligations for retiree health care.

These are no small matters.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) told Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators months ago that it needs another $4.5 billion a year from someone – the state, school districts or teachers – to avoid insolvency in future years. And the CalSTRS deficit is growing by millions of dollars each day.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated that the deficit to cover health care promises to retired state employees is approaching $50 billion and also continuing to grow.

And what was Pérez’s response? Just short of silence. He muttered something about having a discussion about the issues sometime in the future, but that was it.

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