When the nation's second largest purchaser of health care gets socked with a big rate hike, lots of people pay the price.
CalPERS' governing board approved an average 9.5 percent increase in premiums Wednesday, a move that will hurt taxpayers and public employees statewide. Given CalPERS' size and influence, it could affect health care premiums in the private sector, too.
The new rates will cost the average CalPERS member an extra $30 a month starting in January. State and local agencies will pay millions more, too.
"That is a lot," said Paul Ginsburg, who runs a health care think tank in Washington, reacting to CalPERS' announcement.
CalPERS today approved a roughly 9.5 percent increase in health insurance premiums. The pension fund's governing board voted unanimously to approve the increase, which will cost the average CalPERS member another $30 a month in premiums. The increase takes effect Jan. 1.
It represents one of the biggest increases in years for CalPERS, which covers 1.3 million public workers and retirees and is one of the largest purchasers of the health care in the nation.
As Friday's state budget deadline approaches, a little-noticed provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal would cut off thousands of retirees who return to work for the state.
The idea targets all but the most essential of the state's so-called "retired annuitants," a group of about 5,800 workers who drew $110 million in pay from the state last year on top of their pensions.
The Democratic governor's proposal could strike a chord with taxpayers by appearing to crack down on double-dipping. It also appeals to public employee unions – which want to eliminate jobs they believe stunt the growth of the regular workforce – at the same time he's asking union workers to accept furloughs and a 5 percent pay cut.
For the first time, California's Highway Patrol officers are going to be furloughed.
The union reached an agreement at with Gov. Jerry Brown that furloughs Patrol officers 8 hours per month for one year starting July 1. Officers can bank the hours to take later, but their paychecks will reflect the 5 percent pay reduction regardless.
Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley confirmed the agreement. Jon Hamm, CEO of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, said that the language of the agreement encourages officers to take their banked furlough time before taking paid vacation.
The Brown administration had said that it wanted to avoid a policy that allowed banking furlough hours because that leads to employees taking less paid leave, creating a deferred cost for the state when the leave credits with monetary value are cashed out at the end of an employees' career.
Tuesday's landslide pension reform votes in San Diego and San Jose were just the early tremors in what could become a public pension earthquake by the end of this month.
The big question: What does this mean for pension reform legislation at the Capitol?
Gov. Jerry Brown, who has floated a 12-point pension reform plan, told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter on Wednesday that the vote in liberal San Jose was "a very powerful signal" that pension reform is "an imperative" that he's putting "at the top of the agenda." Brown thinks pension reform will make his tax initiative more palatable to voters in November, although he hasn't talked about it much until now.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won a vote to keep his job on Tuesday, surviving a recall effort that turned the Republican into a conservative icon and his state into the first battleground in a bitter, expensive election year.
Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). That made Walker the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election; two others had failed.
Exit polls showed that Democrats had captured nearly 69 percent of the voters who made up their minds in the past few days. But it wasn’t enough.
Instead, the night provided a huge boost for Walker — as well as Republicans in Washington and state capitals who have embraced the same energetic, austere brand of fiscal conservatism as a solution for recession and debt. In a state known for a strong progressive tradition, Walker defended his policies against the full force of the labor movement and the modern left.
San Jose voters Tuesday handed Mayor Chuck Reed a crucial victory with his nationally watched pension reform measure passing by a decisive margin.It was a big night for pension reform, with a San Diego measure also winning by a wide margin. City employee unions who argued the measures are illegal were expected to challenge both in court.
But voter approval of San Jose's Measure B puts Reed and the city in the vanguard of efforts to shrink taxpayer bills for generous government pension plans. Passage also strengthen's Reed's hand as he and his City Council allies work to enact the measure's reforms with a vote next week to reduce pensions for new hires.
Like his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown moved to trim state worker salaries Monday as a way to help cut a ballooning budget deficit.
Although many of the details still need to be hammered out with the unions, Brown proposed that workers lose a day's pay each month in a move that evoked memories of furlough days under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Under Brown's plan, state workers would switch to a four-day workweek, working 9.5 hours a day, or 38 hours a week, instead of the current five-day, 40-hour workweek. The change would cut workers' pay by 5 percent, saving the state $401 million in general fund costs.
Administration officials said they also expect to save money by closing buildings one day a week.
For weeks, the Brown administration has been talking to labor leaders about wringing savings from payroll. Brown did not say Monday whether union leaders had specifically suggested the shorter workweek but did say those discussions were considered in shaping the policy.
The line at CalPERS' customer service window is getting longer.
After converting to a half-billion-dollar computer system to process benefits for hundreds of thousands of California public agency retirees last September, backlogs for some services are worse than before the project launched.
The new hardware and software installed by New York-based tech firm Accenture aimed to consolidate 49 old data systems into one when it launched last September, two years late at nearly twice its original $279 million budget. The California Public Employees' Retirement System committed another $6.8 million in December, bringing the total cost to $514 million. The money has come from CalPERS assets, currently valued at $234 billion.
Meanwhile, fund members have complained that a system intended to speed up service and boost efficiency has done the opposite.
SANTA ROSA — A two-house legislative committee is working with Gov. Brown’s Department of Finance on a ‘hybrid’ retirement plan for new state and local government hires, a committee member told a forum here last week.
Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, twice referred to a “cash balance” plan while talking about a cost-cutting hybrid, proposed by Brown, that combines a lower pension with a 401(k)-style individual investment plan.