Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 – 10:01 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 – 11:13 pm

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature agreed to a mild reform of public employee pensions aimed, they said, at reducing manipulation of the system and reducing long-term costs.

Among other things, the reform legislation sought to reduce “spiking” of pensions by restricting their calculation to regular pay.

This week, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, whose board is dominated by union representatives and union-friendly politicians, revealed a very generous interpretation of that provision.

It declared 99 forms of pay over and above regular salaries to be “pensionable.”

Brown objected to just one, allowing temporary pay from short-term promotions, to be counted toward pensions. That exception, he said, “disregards the rule that pensions will be based on normal monthly pay and not on short-term, ad hoc pay increases.”

The CalPERS board ignored his objection, after which Brown complained, “Today CalPERS got it wrong” and said he will explore “what actions can be taken to protect the integrity of the Public Employees Pension Reform Act.”

All right – but by his silence, Brown tacitly approved 98 other kinds of extra pay that CalPERS allowed to inflate pensions.

Running through the list, one is struck by a recurring theme: State and local civil service workers appear to be getting lots of money for performing duties that any rational person would consider just part of the job.

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