Voters to be asked to phase out county pensions

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR 
 Jim McDermott. 
 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

Photo by Chuck Kirman, Ventura County Star

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR Jim McDermott. 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR 
 Dick Thomson. 
 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

Photo by Chuck Kirman, Ventura County Star

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR Dick Thomson. 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR 
 David P. Grau. 
 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

Photo by Chuck Kirman, Ventura County Star

CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR David P. Grau. 01/14/2014 Camarillo, CA

Arguing that the county pension system is too flawed to fix, a committee plans to ask voters to phase it out on the November ballot.

The Committee for Pension Fairness wants to slowly eliminate pensions for county government employees by requiring all new employees hired after July 1, 2015, to go into a 401(k)-style plan.

“We cannot make tweaks to the current system,” attorney and committee member Jim McDermott said Tuesday.

Committee members said the measure would:

require the county as the employer to contribute 4 percent of base salary for civilian employees into a 401(k)-style plan. The figure would be 11 percent for sworn safety employees, including sheriff’s deputies and firefighters. Death and disability benefits for public safety officers would be guaranteed.

direct the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to freeze the compensation that counts for pensions for five years, a measure that would apply to existing employees. The board could by majority vote overrule that direction.

require new officeholders in county office, including the Board of Supervisors, to participate in 401(k) plans instead of pensions.

McDermott said government employees should not receive retirement benefits any better or worse than those in the private sector. Private companies have largely abandoned pensions, which provide lifetime retirement checks, in favor of 401(k) plans that do not provide guaranteed benefits. Nor, he said, is the current system sustainable.

County officials and a union executive disagreed.

“What’s the advantage of putting government employees into a system where they have no retirement security?” Rick Shimmel, executive director of the union representing deputy sheriffs, said Tuesday. “Are you going to do that because private corporations have done that to their employees?”

County Executive Mike Powers and Steve Bennett, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the measure could undermine hiring.

“My concern is that it would put us at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting and retaining talented employees,” Powers said.

The committee is composed of about 10 people, most of them board members of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, spokesman David Grau said. Organizers formed a separate committee to campaign for the initiative for legal reasons, said Dick Thomson, president of the taxpayers association and a member of the committee.

Language of the ballot measure had not been finalized as of Tuesday, but committee members plan to file the proposed initiative Wednesday at the Ventura County elections office. They need to collect about 26,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot, but Thomson said the organization is shooting for 36,000.

He anticipated that the task would start in February and be completed by May 5. The deadline to file signatures is May 16, Assistant Registrar of Voters Tracy Saucedo said.

The county’s $4 billion, 16,000-member county pension system is 79 percent funded, according to the latest actuarial report. The unfunded liability totaled $953 million at the end of the last fiscal year.

Some financial specialists consider 80 percent an adequate funding level while others say only 100 percent is acceptable. Powers said the county has been able to fund the system while maintaining balanced budgets and building reserves.

McDermott declined to say how much the group planned to spend to pass the initiative that is likely to be staunchly opposed by labor unions.

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Comments » 73

Mina writes:

McDermot claims to be a Democrat. Just as the Republicans have their RINO's, we on the left have people like McDermot and Lieberman who call themselves Democrats but don't really understand what it means.

Mina writes:
governmentleech writes:

Finally, a proposition that I would be willing to be stopped for at the entrance to a supermarket and would sign with glee! I would circle back and sign it 10 more times, using fake names, even!

Mina writes:

Wait - Doesn't Jim McDermott represent Washington state? Why is he involved in a pension proposition for California? Is there a different Jim McDermott?

waynes-world writes:

It's about time

Doxster writes:

And how could I think that your response would be anything different? That you would sign multiple times knowing that was illegal and improper does not surprise. As you, under your pseudonym, of "where your from dude", having been banned from this website and opting to use your wife's "name" to continue your rants is not a surprise either.

M1911 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CaptainAmerica writes:

I think that significant pension reforms need to be implemented in order to make public employee pension systems fiscally sustainable and fair to taxpayers. It isn't fiscally responsible for the county to be paying out six-figure pensions to county employees that in many instances even exceed their final salaries. In Ventura County 84% of retirees receiving pensions greater than $100,000 a year actually receive more than their final base salary.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/...

Former VC Sheriff Bob Brooks is receiving a $283,000 per year pension, which is 20% higher than his final salary - and he is suing the county to increase his pension to $358,000 per year which, would be 52% higher than his final salary . Former VC Undersheriff Craig Husband is receivieng a $258,000 per year pensions, which is 30% higher than his final salary. Former VC Fire Captain T.N. Roberts is receiving a $160,000 per year pension, which is 84% higher than his final salary. Former VC CEO Marty Robinson is receiving a $272,000 per year pension, which is 20% higher than her final salary.

That being said, I don't think that public employee pensions should be eliminated, but retirement ages need to be increased, pension formulas should be lowered and pension spiking needs to be eliminated. We also need to fully fund pension systems, and public employees should equally share in pension costs.

Doxster writes:

in response to governmentleech:

Finally, a proposition that I would be willing to be stopped for at the entrance to a supermarket and would sign with glee! I would circle back and sign it 10 more times, using fake names, even!

And how could I think that your response would be anything different? That you would sign multiple times knowing that was illegal and improper does not surprise. As you, under your pseudonym, of "where your from dude", having been banned from this website and opting to use your wife's "name" to continue your rants is not a surprise either.
Intended as a response to this entry.

Patron writes:

Pensions would be fine if we paid government workers what we use to. Now they are paid the same as the private sector and the pension formula can't sustain itself. I think a 401 style retirement is fair if you are demanding market salary.

archtmf writes:

I will enthusiastically vote for any ballot measures/propositions that curb public sector employee pensions. Why should the public sector be a privileged class with a sense of entitlement? They get to retire earlier than any comparable positions in the private sector, they get health care fully paid for, often for life, often covering spouses too, and they get to fold in overtime and unused vacation time into their final earnings to base their pensions on - pensions that are guaranteed to be funded by the taxpayers no matter what. Nobody is guaranteeing my retirement, I resent having to be on the hook to partially fund the guaranteed retirement of public sector workers.

Public sector employee pension obligations:
•Unsustainable, you bet.
•Liable to bankrupt local, regional and state governments, you bet.
•Increasingly on the radar of public consciousness and concern and consternation - you bet.

DavidAtkins writes:

Moving private sector workers from pensions to 401Ks blew up Americans' retirement security. The answer isn't to move public sector workers from pensions into 401Ks. The answer is to move private sector workers out of unstable 401Ks back into secure pensions where most of the private sector used to be during the height of the American middle class.

DavidAtkins writes:

in response to archtmf:

I will enthusiastically vote for any ballot measures/propositions that curb public sector employee pensions. Why should the public sector be a privileged class with a sense of entitlement? They get to retire earlier than any comparable positions in the private sector, they get health care fully paid for, often for life, often covering spouses too, and they get to fold in overtime and unused vacation time into their final earnings to base their pensions on - pensions that are guaranteed to be funded by the taxpayers no matter what. Nobody is guaranteeing my retirement, I resent having to be on the hook to partially fund the guaranteed retirement of public sector workers.

Public sector employee pension obligations:
•Unsustainable, you bet.
•Liable to bankrupt local, regional and state governments, you bet.
•Increasingly on the radar of public consciousness and concern and consternation - you bet.

American companies USED to guarantee retirement for most of their workers. Then they got greedy and switched to unstable 401Ks designed to inflate their stock valuations while destroying their workers' retirement security.

I don't resent the public workers' pensions. Good for them. Corporations with record profits and record stock prices need to go back to actually guaranteeing the retirements of their workers.

governmentleech writes:

in response to Doxster:

And how could I think that your response would be anything different? That you would sign multiple times knowing that was illegal and improper does not surprise. As you, under your pseudonym, of "where your from dude", having been banned from this website and opting to use your wife's "name" to continue your rants is not a surprise either.
Intended as a response to this entry.

Dear doxter, I fell asleep trying to read your point. What was it again?

waynes-world writes:

in response to DavidAtkins:

American companies USED to guarantee retirement for most of their workers. Then they got greedy and switched to unstable 401Ks designed to inflate their stock valuations while destroying their workers' retirement security.

I don't resent the public workers' pensions. Good for them. Corporations with record profits and record stock prices need to go back to actually guaranteeing the retirements of their workers.

Companies stop offering defined pensions because they were too high of a liability. Given the massive underfunding of the public employees pensions and ultimate taxpayer bailout, looks like they were right.

Traditional-2 writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Companies stop offering defined pensions because they were too high of a liability. Given the massive underfunding of the public employees pensions and ultimate taxpayer bailout, looks like they were right.

Your response was correct and polite. Atkins' response captures a big part of what is wrong with electing Dems - they simply do not understand the financial side of things.

People need to start taking personal responsibility. It is not a difficult concept. I met a man once who never made more than $35,000 a year, yet at 65 he had managed to have saved (and grown) his retirement fund to $1.5M. It is not hard. You just have to make it a priority.

governmentleech writes:

Government employees of all people have a unique ability to save for retirement. Simply take the money you save by using government vehicles for your own use, the free iPads and cell phones you get at taxpayer expense, and put that money into a Roth IRA; you'll be wealthy by the time you retire at 52

bionox writes:

The public sector employees should not be forced to give up their defined benefit pensions in our misguided race to the bottom regarding pay and bennies. This initiative is a consequence of elected and union officials not dealing with the more egregious and blatant gaming of the system by certain, highly-compensated county employees.

But, in my opinion, there is no way, no how a pension should be greater than one's final, base pay. There is no way, no how a pension should be "spiked". There is no way, no how a pension should be uncapped; we are facing decades-long obligations of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to select individuals. Would a cap of $150,000 to $200,000 not fit the lifestyle needs of most public employees? Am I missing something here?

Generally, the most extreme pensions go to the upper management of police and fire. Their greed has turned the public against this system of massive wealth redistribution to retirees. "The unfunded liability totaled $953 million" means each and every resident of Ventura County is currently on the hook for over $1000 to fully fund the pension plan. Does this seem fair to you?

My crystal ball tells me the initiative will garner enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. The unions and Dems will spend a lot of money fighting it. It will pass, however, all because elected officials couldn't say no to special interests (in this case being police and fire).

I will, however, not support this as it is too extreme. Let's first demand our elected officials deal with some of the problems I listed previously before we penalize an entire class of workers (hard-working, dedicated County employees).

CaptainAmerica writes:

in response to bionox:

The public sector employees should not be forced to give up their defined benefit pensions in our misguided race to the bottom regarding pay and bennies. This initiative is a consequence of elected and union officials not dealing with the more egregious and blatant gaming of the system by certain, highly-compensated county employees.

But, in my opinion, there is no way, no how a pension should be greater than one's final, base pay. There is no way, no how a pension should be "spiked". There is no way, no how a pension should be uncapped; we are facing decades-long obligations of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to select individuals. Would a cap of $150,000 to $200,000 not fit the lifestyle needs of most public employees? Am I missing something here?

Generally, the most extreme pensions go to the upper management of police and fire. Their greed has turned the public against this system of massive wealth redistribution to retirees. "The unfunded liability totaled $953 million" means each and every resident of Ventura County is currently on the hook for over $1000 to fully fund the pension plan. Does this seem fair to you?

My crystal ball tells me the initiative will garner enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. The unions and Dems will spend a lot of money fighting it. It will pass, however, all because elected officials couldn't say no to special interests (in this case being police and fire).

I will, however, not support this as it is too extreme. Let's first demand our elected officials deal with some of the problems I listed previously before we penalize an entire class of workers (hard-working, dedicated County employees).

I agree with your response. It is important that we reign in abuses to eliminate spiking and ridiculous pension formulas that threaten to bankrupt our cities. Most people don't have a problem with public employees retiring with modest pensions. The problem is with six-figure pensions, absurdly low retirement ages, pension spiking, retroactive pension increases, and taxpayers often being forced to pay both employer and employee pension costs. It shouldn't be so difficult to implement common sense reforms that will make pensions more fiscally sustainable and fair to taxpayers.

If we don't implement reforms we risk growing public anger and a fiscal collapse of public employee pension systems. Ignoring the problem or attacking those who want to implement sensible reforms won't fix anything. This isn't a partisan issue, it's a math problem. It is also an ethical issue, since many cities are now being forced to slash services for the poorest and neediest citizens in order to fund six-figure pensions for a select group of public employees. This needs to stop.

pumpiw writes:

The 401k plan makes perfect sense. No one can truly guarantee future pension payments. Current system headed to insolvency and will result in throwing the younger group of current employees under the bus. Their generation is already getting a mighty load of debt sent down for them to have to pay off. Seems better they get something that they, in effect, own.

Army76 writes:

in response to archtmf:

I will enthusiastically vote for any ballot measures/propositions that curb public sector employee pensions. Why should the public sector be a privileged class with a sense of entitlement? They get to retire earlier than any comparable positions in the private sector, they get health care fully paid for, often for life, often covering spouses too, and they get to fold in overtime and unused vacation time into their final earnings to base their pensions on - pensions that are guaranteed to be funded by the taxpayers no matter what. Nobody is guaranteeing my retirement, I resent having to be on the hook to partially fund the guaranteed retirement of public sector workers.

Public sector employee pension obligations:
•Unsustainable, you bet.
•Liable to bankrupt local, regional and state governments, you bet.
•Increasingly on the radar of public consciousness and concern and consternation - you bet.

The County employees do not get health care "often for life". Sure do wish people would check their facts before posting about something they know nothing about.

Patron writes:

Atkins would also like lifetime health benefits. The man has never met an unfunded liability he doesn't like. I guess we can always tax the middle class...more.

Mina writes:

I'd be willing to cap all public pensions at $100k if law included also says that any private company or entity doing business with the government must impose the same cap on all employees.

If a cap is fair to impose on public sector, it should also be imposed on private sector employees that the government pays to do work for them.

I'd love to see Haliburton or Siemens (love that name) try to get by with any kind of cap on executive compensation.

Mina writes:

When congress wrote ObamaCare they took away congresses taxpayer paid health insurance and made them get heath insurance from the same exchanges the rest of us use.

Let's do something like that with pensions.

The right wing wants to cap pensions for the people who do the work, well I want to cap pensions for the people who make the big bucks.

bionox writes:

I understand your sentiments, Mina, but the private sector has figured out its own loopholes for gaming their systems of compensation and benefits. Check out these beauts, http://www.cnbc.com/id/101199267

But the difference between public and private is that we have a choice whether or not to patronize a business that allows these huge disparities between upper management and its rank and file. We do not have a choice when it comes to government services. We are stuck with both their services and their obligations.

If Wal-Mart offers a product or service the county needs at the best price, that's good enough for most residents. They simply don't care about economic justice and pay inequality within that corporation.

dreckerson writes:

in response to Mina:

When congress wrote ObamaCare they took away congresses taxpayer paid health insurance and made them get heath insurance from the same exchanges the rest of us use.

Let's do something like that with pensions.

The right wing wants to cap pensions for the people who do the work, well I want to cap pensions for the people who make the big bucks.

You really need to move to another country and enjoy the socialist like policies you seem to love. Stay there for a few years and then tell us what you think. If it's as good as you think, then stay...please. If it's not, then come back and appreciate the freedoms we have here.

michaelait#793630 writes:

Hallelujah! Heck yeah, sign that pronto. As Arch points out these guys are getting much more each year in retirement than they earned while working. Who the hell allowed this to happen?
It's time for taxpayers to take control again and return sanity to public employee pensions.
If I was a cynic I would say this is the last 'old white guy' grasp from a sinking ship called "The California"
They grab those crazy pensions, move to Idaho, and leave the skeleton of California to liberals, illegals and plain old leeches.

Doxster writes:

in response to archtmf:

I will enthusiastically vote for any ballot measures/propositions that curb public sector employee pensions. Why should the public sector be a privileged class with a sense of entitlement? They get to retire earlier than any comparable positions in the private sector, they get health care fully paid for, often for life, often covering spouses too, and they get to fold in overtime and unused vacation time into their final earnings to base their pensions on - pensions that are guaranteed to be funded by the taxpayers no matter what. Nobody is guaranteeing my retirement, I resent having to be on the hook to partially fund the guaranteed retirement of public sector workers.

Public sector employee pension obligations:
•Unsustainable, you bet.
•Liable to bankrupt local, regional and state governments, you bet.
•Increasingly on the radar of public consciousness and concern and consternation - you bet.

archtmf,
I believe what you believe you posted is correct.
Early retirement: Yes to a degree. I know a couple of retirees who did in fact retire early. Very small pensions and after paying for their medical, not much left.
Medical for life: A miniscule percentaqe of management may get this benefit. Spouses not included.
Overtime and vacation time: Not compensable for calculating retirement pension (rank and file). Management perk.
Your personal retirement: Hopefully you are investing for your retirement in a progressive company. But, you probably have Social Security, a form of guaranteed retirement.
You have thrown a blanket "over the collective" as it were. I agree with some of what you say and also subscribe to what posters Bionox and Captain America have stated. If you eliminate management and their exorbitant pensions from the mix, the funding issue becomes less critical.

eng42 writes:

in response to michaelait#793630:

Hallelujah! Heck yeah, sign that pronto. As Arch points out these guys are getting much more each year in retirement than they earned while working. Who the hell allowed this to happen?
It's time for taxpayers to take control again and return sanity to public employee pensions.
If I was a cynic I would say this is the last 'old white guy' grasp from a sinking ship called "The California"
They grab those crazy pensions, move to Idaho, and leave the skeleton of California to liberals, illegals and plain old leeches.

What an ignorant post. A very tiny percent of our county retirees get more in retirement than they did while working. The average employee who retired in the last 5 years get $23K a year.
http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/feb/1...

michaelait#793630 writes:

in response to eng42:

What an ignorant post. A very tiny percent of our county retirees get more in retirement than they did while working. The average employee who retired in the last 5 years get $23K a year.
http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/feb/1...

So now a dream is being ignorant?
Right now I'm having a vision! I see you as a over pensioned retired unionized public employee.
If you, as an over pensioned retired public employee wishes to 'protect' this scam, why don't you help regular people fight the abuses?
Soooo many problems could be solved in this world if cowards only spoke up. Sadly, like you, they don't.

Pro_Pain writes:

in response to archtmf:

I will enthusiastically vote for any ballot measures/propositions that curb public sector employee pensions. Why should the public sector be a privileged class with a sense of entitlement? They get to retire earlier than any comparable positions in the private sector, they get health care fully paid for, often for life, often covering spouses too, and they get to fold in overtime and unused vacation time into their final earnings to base their pensions on - pensions that are guaranteed to be funded by the taxpayers no matter what. Nobody is guaranteeing my retirement, I resent having to be on the hook to partially fund the guaranteed retirement of public sector workers.

Public sector employee pension obligations:
•Unsustainable, you bet.
•Liable to bankrupt local, regional and state governments, you bet.
•Increasingly on the radar of public consciousness and concern and consternation - you bet.

Your post couldn't be more wrong. I don't know what public employee retirement you were looking at. Here's a few notes for our county:

Deputy Sheriff's and Firefighters life span is considerably less than that of someone who worked in the private sector for a variety of reasons.

You say they "get health care fully paid for." $1200 is the going rate per month for health insurance for a retired deputy sheriff. It is NOT fully paid for just like during employment. While employed, I pay $500 out of pocket for a standard HMO per month with no option to shop around with the exception of the three on our list.

Overtime is not computed in the final earnings.

Lower the benefits, lower the standard of employee.

Mina writes:

in response to dreckerson:

You really need to move to another country and enjoy the socialist like policies you seem to love. Stay there for a few years and then tell us what you think. If it's as good as you think, then stay...please. If it's not, then come back and appreciate the freedoms we have here.

How about you move to a right wing paradise like Florida or Texas? I love California the way it is. How about you?

Mina writes:

At least it's pretty clear from the comments here, that while some Democrats do believe in limiting pensions, in general we believe applying downward pressure on incomes for government workers will do the same for all working people, and that's bad for the economy.

Mina writes:

in response to Pro_Pain:

Your post couldn't be more wrong. I don't know what public employee retirement you were looking at. Here's a few notes for our county:

Deputy Sheriff's and Firefighters life span is considerably less than that of someone who worked in the private sector for a variety of reasons.

You say they "get health care fully paid for." $1200 is the going rate per month for health insurance for a retired deputy sheriff. It is NOT fully paid for just like during employment. While employed, I pay $500 out of pocket for a standard HMO per month with no option to shop around with the exception of the three on our list.

Overtime is not computed in the final earnings.

Lower the benefits, lower the standard of employee.

Yay Pro_Pain! You and I finally agree on something! There IS hope for consensus!

eng42 writes:

in response to michaelait#793630:

So now a dream is being ignorant?
Right now I'm having a vision! I see you as a over pensioned retired unionized public employee.
If you, as an over pensioned retired public employee wishes to 'protect' this scam, why don't you help regular people fight the abuses?
Soooo many problems could be solved in this world if cowards only spoke up. Sadly, like you, they don't.

Are you denying that your implication was that most, or at least a lot of the county retirees get more than they made when working?

CaptainAmerica writes:

in response to Pro_Pain:

Your post couldn't be more wrong. I don't know what public employee retirement you were looking at. Here's a few notes for our county:

Deputy Sheriff's and Firefighters life span is considerably less than that of someone who worked in the private sector for a variety of reasons.

You say they "get health care fully paid for." $1200 is the going rate per month for health insurance for a retired deputy sheriff. It is NOT fully paid for just like during employment. While employed, I pay $500 out of pocket for a standard HMO per month with no option to shop around with the exception of the three on our list.

Overtime is not computed in the final earnings.

Lower the benefits, lower the standard of employee.

Pro_Pain says, "Deputy Sheriff's and Firefighters life span is considerably less than that of someone who worked in the private sector for a variety of reasons."

That is a myth that has been perpetuated by defenders of the status quo and is provably false. CalPERS is the largest public employee pension fund in the world and happens to be a great resource for actuarial information, including life expectancy data for both safety and non-safety retirees.

According to CalPERS the life expectancy for public safety retirees is identical to the life expectancy for non-safety retirees. There is no data to support the myth that public safety employees die earlier than anyone else, and repeating this myth is nothing more than self-serving propaganda used to justify the absurdly high pension benefits being handed out to public safety employees.

http://www2.ocregister.com/articles/p...

ocahan442#759518 writes:

in response to Patron:

Pensions would be fine if we paid government workers what we use to. Now they are paid the same as the private sector and the pension formula can't sustain itself. I think a 401 style retirement is fair if you are demanding market salary.

Patron: Very well said. As a retired public employee, I couldn't agree more. The examples cited, a retired CEO and VC Sheriff, are not the norm, obviously. I can't even imagine a *retirement benefit* of $272,000 a year! We're taxpayers too.

johnm.lau#258056 writes:

in response to DavidAtkins:

Moving private sector workers from pensions to 401Ks blew up Americans' retirement security. The answer isn't to move public sector workers from pensions into 401Ks. The answer is to move private sector workers out of unstable 401Ks back into secure pensions where most of the private sector used to be during the height of the American middle class.

You might want to take a look at the new variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits. All you have to do is approach your insurance agent or financial consultant.

elderberry62#779014 writes:

"McDermott said government employees should not receive retirement benefits any better or worse than those in the private sector."

I guess in this guys mind, police and fire fighters should be provided an extra special dispensation while the unwashed plebeans deal with the crap the public gives government workers and yet don't get adequately compensated for that work.

TheCrusader writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Companies stop offering defined pensions because they were too high of a liability. Given the massive underfunding of the public employees pensions and ultimate taxpayer bailout, looks like they were right.

lil Wayne is so upset about these entitlement checks that he is going to start mailing back his Social Security Entitlement check every month! Right lil Wayne? Oh that's right, it's only an entitlement check when "those" people receive it. Of course Social Security is going broke so I guess you want your check cut in half, right?

eng42 writes:

in response to johnm.lau#258056:

You might want to take a look at the new variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits. All you have to do is approach your insurance agent or financial consultant.

Almost all fee only financial advisors will tell you that variable annuities are a ripoff. They have high up front costs, high fees and not to good returns. The reason insurance agents and bankers sell them is that they get an immediate return in their pocket. That comes out of your profits and that is why you are locked in for 6 or 7 years.
Run as fast as you can from anyone who tries to sell you one.

WiseOlGal writes:

in response to governmentleech:

Government employees of all people have a unique ability to save for retirement. Simply take the money you save by using government vehicles for your own use, the free iPads and cell phones you get at taxpayer expense, and put that money into a Roth IRA; you'll be wealthy by the time you retire at 52

First of all, I do not get to use a government vehicle to go back & forth from home to work, I do not get an iPad, I do not get to use a government issued cellphone, and I'm 57- with at least 5 more years til I can AFFORD to retire in THIS County. Oh yeah, and I've been with the County since 1985. Hmmmmm.....that's over 28 years. Where do you get your data anyway?

phreadbarnz#789207 writes:

so if they take away my pension, will they pay me what I'm worth?

phreadbarnz#789207 writes:

in response to Patron:

Pensions would be fine if we paid government workers what we use to. Now they are paid the same as the private sector and the pension formula can't sustain itself. I think a 401 style retirement is fair if you are demanding market salary.

really? The average salary for what I do is $100,000 in the private sector.
I make $77,000
Wanna give me a raise?

REALITY writes:

in response to eng42:

What an ignorant post. A very tiny percent of our county retirees get more in retirement than they did while working. The average employee who retired in the last 5 years get $23K a year.
http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/feb/1...

So the avg amount was $23k for full time 30 year employees? That was a rehortical question to point out the fact that that number needs to be taken in context.

It probably includes part time workers and those who only worked a few years for the county.

REALITY writes:

in response to CaptainAmerica:

Pro_Pain says, "Deputy Sheriff's and Firefighters life span is considerably less than that of someone who worked in the private sector for a variety of reasons."

That is a myth that has been perpetuated by defenders of the status quo and is provably false. CalPERS is the largest public employee pension fund in the world and happens to be a great resource for actuarial information, including life expectancy data for both safety and non-safety retirees.

According to CalPERS the life expectancy for public safety retirees is identical to the life expectancy for non-safety retirees. There is no data to support the myth that public safety employees die earlier than anyone else, and repeating this myth is nothing more than self-serving propaganda used to justify the absurdly high pension benefits being handed out to public safety employees.

http://www2.ocregister.com/articles/p...

It is false and has been rebuked many times on this forum.

REALITY writes:

Ii wanted to sit back on this story just to see how the comments would flow.

For those who have followed my rants over the past 10 years on this subject know how critical I have been on the abuses I've discovered. The biggest examples would be the police department followed by the fire department.

Lavish pensions, extremely early retirement age, lack of meaningful contributions (in some cases zero), pension spiking, etc etc. Not to mention all of the abuses allowed under their worker's comp rules, but that's another story for later.

And they wonder why all the public backlash? Just to show you how out of touch they are with reality.

As far as I'm concerned this is the bed they made now let them sleep in it.

They got so greedy .

For the record not all public employees have such great deals, many people only have modest pensions which they contribute a decent amount.

I would be happy just to eliminate the abuses. But that what happens when a few people run amuck.

Bottom line, compensation needs to reflect the marketplace. Something that has been lacking for many years now.

CaptainAmerica writes:

in response to REALITY:

It is false and has been rebuked many times on this forum.

That's true, but it still doesn't stop defenders of the status quo from regurgitating the same self-serving propaganda, half-truths, and myths over and over again.

As I have said many times before, I'm not opposed to pensions, but we have to do something about the abuses that threaten to drive our cities into bankruptcy. Consider that the Ventura County employee pension system (VCERA) is less than 80% funded and has a $1 billion unfunded liability, despite the fact that the stock market has fully recovered and is trading at an all-time high. In 2004 the county devoted less than 1% of its annual budget toward pension contributions, but by 2011 that amount had skyrocketed to 16.9% of the budget and continues to grow. Last year the county spent a whopping $140 million on pension contributions, yet it continues to fall further and further behind.

http://reason.org/blog/show/ventura-c...

These public employee pension systems are fiscally unsustainable, which means that taxpayers and future retirees are at risk if we don't implement serious reforms. That's why we need to move past the rhetoric and have an honest discussion on this issue before its too late.

CaptainAmerica writes:

in response to REALITY:

So the avg amount was $23k for full time 30 year employees? That was a rehortical question to point out the fact that that number needs to be taken in context.

It probably includes part time workers and those who only worked a few years for the county.

The use of averages is misleading, as it includes part-time workers, surviving spouses that receive just a fraction of the original benefit, individuals that retired decades ago before benefit formulas were enhanced, and individuals with as little as five years of service. As you point out, the only meaningful comparison is looking at the average pension for full-time employees with at least 30 years of service. Including part-time workers and retirees with very short careers only serves to deliberately skew the numbers lower.

For example, you often hear statements that the average CalPERS pension is just $2,000 per month. However, if you look on page 169 of the CalPERS FY12/13 annual report you will discover that the average pension for a CalPERS retiree with at least 30 years of service is actually $5,026 per month, which is more than $60,000 per year.

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/a...

Of course these numbers are also heavily skewed by those at the top that receive the most generous pensions, most notably public safety. The passage of SB400 in 1999 triggered a wave of retroactive pension enhancement throughout the state, granting most police officers and firefighters a 3% pension formula that applied backward to the date of hire. This was a massive taxpayer-funded giveaway that has dramatically increased pensions for safety retirees. Consider that the average first-month pension for a CHP retiree increased from $3,633 in 1999 to $7,418 in 2012, which is more than double. Local government safety employees also saw their pension double as well, going from an average first-month pension of $3,296 in 1999 to $6,867 in 2012. These astonishing numbers demonstrate how the trendy upgraded pension formulas have essentially looted the pension system.

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/09/5718...

REALITY writes:

in response to CaptainAmerica:

The use of averages is misleading, as it includes part-time workers, surviving spouses that receive just a fraction of the original benefit, individuals that retired decades ago before benefit formulas were enhanced, and individuals with as little as five years of service. As you point out, the only meaningful comparison is looking at the average pension for full-time employees with at least 30 years of service. Including part-time workers and retirees with very short careers only serves to deliberately skew the numbers lower.

For example, you often hear statements that the average CalPERS pension is just $2,000 per month. However, if you look on page 169 of the CalPERS FY12/13 annual report you will discover that the average pension for a CalPERS retiree with at least 30 years of service is actually $5,026 per month, which is more than $60,000 per year.

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/a...

Of course these numbers are also heavily skewed by those at the top that receive the most generous pensions, most notably public safety. The passage of SB400 in 1999 triggered a wave of retroactive pension enhancement throughout the state, granting most police officers and firefighters a 3% pension formula that applied backward to the date of hire. This was a massive taxpayer-funded giveaway that has dramatically increased pensions for safety retirees. Consider that the average first-month pension for a CHP retiree increased from $3,633 in 1999 to $7,418 in 2012, which is more than double. Local government safety employees also saw their pension double as well, going from an average first-month pension of $3,296 in 1999 to $6,867 in 2012. These astonishing numbers demonstrate how the trendy upgraded pension formulas have essentially looted the pension system.

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/09/5718...

Concur, I've been repeatedly critical of SB400. Like I've said a million times before before it was a massive giveaway because of union clout vs the realities of the job. It's beyond me how a group of employees can receive a 50% pension increase RETROACTIVELY. To this day, I have repeatedly asked proponents to justify the increase. They can't.

Such an increase would never occur in the private sector without a legitimate shortage of workers.

I'm most let down that it took so long for the public to come to their senses. My rants years ago fell on deaf ears because the economy was booming and the gov coffers were over flowing.

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