Pension Reform

Annual returns are looking good for many funds, but they are still in a big hole when it comes to being able to meet obligations.

By TERI SFORZA / STAFF COLUMNIST
Published: Aug. 3, 2014 Updated: 6:20 p.m.

Public investment types may be rubbing their hands together muttering, “money, money, money,” after stellar returns over the past year, but some have a lot more to crow about than others.

Consider the Orange County Public Employees Retirement System, boasting a 14.3 percent return on investments. Sweet – except that many others in the Golden State did better.

• The folks who oversee the pension fund for educators – the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – earned a stunning 18.7 percent.

• The Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System wasn’t far behind, at 18.45 percent.

• The giant of them all – the massive California Public Employees’ Retirement System – earned 18.4 percent.

• Even the Imperial County Employees’ Retirement System did better than OCERS, at 16.3 percent.

Who did worse? The sun may be stronger a bit south: Both the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association and the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System reported lower returns than OCERS (13.4 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively).

Note: The numbers are preliminary; the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association didn’t provide midyear stats; Riverside city and county, as well as Long Beach, use CalPERS; and, even with these fantastic earnings, the pension systems are still in a hole.

MUTINY?

Earning 4.1 percent less than CalPERS is a bit of an issue in O.C., where some workers have been actively talking mutiny. They’d like to ditch OCERS for CalPERS, charging that OCERS is too conservative – and to political ends.

“The OCERS Board majority, which is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, has adopted an ideological agenda aimed at keeping costs for taxpayers and employees excessively high and investment returns unnecessarily low,” said Jennifer Muir of the Orange County Employees Association, which represents some 18,000 public workers.

To read entire story, click here.