Transparent California Releases 2014 Salary Data for California K-12 School Employees

For Immediate Release
August 12, 2015
California Policy Center
Contact: Robert Fellner
Robert@CalPolicyCenter.org
(201) 206-6469

Data: No correlation between teacher compensation and academic performance

TUSTIN — K-12 employee compensation data released today by Transparent California shows there is no meaningful correlation between teacher compensation and student performance; when the compensation of all district employees is compared to performance, there is a negative correlation.

A geographically-diverse survey of 75 of the largest school districts statewide – accounting for nearly half of total statewide enrollment – found average teacher compensation that ranged from $81,000 to $120,000, with no correlation to district performance:

PR-20150812-1

The Academic Performance Index (API) ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, with 800 being the targeted goal for all schools. The comparison relies on 2013 scores, the most recent data available.

The average full-time teacher compensation was $94,796 and the average API score was 795. Compensation is defined as wages plus the employer-cost of health and retirement benefits.

The average total employee cost per enrolled student was $6,946 and was negativelycorrelated against the district’s API scores.

Over 740,000 employee compensation records from 555 K-12 school districts – representing nearly 80 percent of total enrollment statewide – was obtained by and published on TransparentCalifornia.com, a public service website that provides accurate, comprehensive and easily searchable information on the compensation of public employees in California.

Statewide, the Chaffey Joint Union High School’s average compensation package for full-time teachers topped the list at $119,942, while receiving only a 777 API score in 2013. San Ramon Valley Unified earned a 923 API score in 2013, the highest of all schools surveyed, with average teacher compensation and total employee cost per student both below average at $88,638 and $6,763, respectively.

The top 3 highest earners statewide were:

  1. John Deasy, Emeritus Superintendent of Schools at Los Angeles Unified received $485,634 in compensation.
  2. John Collins, Superintendent at Poway Unified received $478,008 in compensation.
  3. Michael Hanson, Superintendent at Fresno Unified received $460,890 in compensation.

Greater LA Area

The greater Los Angeles area includes schools in the counties of: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside.

The average greater Los Angeles area K-12 employee received a compensation package worth $88,581 with over 56,000 employees making more than $100,000.

Chaffey Joint and Anaheim Union High both received below-target API scores of 777 in 2013, despite leading the state in average teacher compensation of $119,942 and $115,437, respectively.

The average compensation for full-time teachers at 10 of the largest school districts in the greater Los Angeles area is displayed below:

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Greater San Diego Area

For the greater San Diego area, the average K-12 employee received a compensation package worth $85,584 with over 10,000 employees making more than $100,000.

The top 3 highest earners in the greater San Diego area after John Collins were:

  1. Kevin Holt, Superintendent at San Marcos Unified received $356,672 in compensation.
  2. Randolph Eugene Ward, Superintendent at San Diego County Office of Education received $347,430 in compensation.
  3. Cynthia Marten, Superintendent at San Diego Unified received $316,255 in compensation.

The average compensation for full-time teachers at 10 of the largest school districts in San Diego County is displayed below:

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Central Coast Area

The Central Coast area includes schools in the counties of: Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura.

The average Central Coast K-12 employee received a compensation package worth $85,522 with nearly 5,000 employees making over $100,000.

Lucia Mar Unified’s average teacher compensation was just over $81,000, but their 816 API score was considerably higher than Hueneme Elementary’s 734 score, despite Hueneme spending over 30% more on teacher compensation.

The top 3 Central Coast earners were:

  1. David Cash, Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified received $306,111.
  2. Marvin Biasotti, Superintendent of Carmel Unified received $301,935.
  3. Tammy Murphy, Superintendent of Montecito Union Elementary received $301,239.

The average compensation for full-time teachers at 10 of the largest Central Coast school districts is displayed below:

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Bay Area

For the Bay Area, the average K-12 employee received a compensation package worth $87,295 with over 16,000 employees making more than $100,000.

The top 3 highest Bay Area earners were:

  1. Polly Bove, Superintendent at Fremont Union High received $363,736 in compensation.
  2. Elizabeth Mcmanus, Deputy Superintendent at San Mateo Union High received $349,292 in compensation.
  3. Bruce Harter, Superintendent of Schools at West Contra Costa Unified received $337,973 in compensation.

The average compensation for full-time teachers at 10 of the largest school districts in the Bay Area is displayed below:

PR-20150812-5

Greater Sacramento and Central Valley area

For the greater Sacramento and Central Valley area, the average K-12 employee received a compensation package worth $84,012 with over 15,000 employees making more than $100,000.

Michael Hanson’s $460,000 compensation package was over $125,000 more than the next 3 top highest earners for the Greater Sacramento and Central Valley area:

  1. Steven Ladd, Superintendent at Elk Grove Unified received $331,855 in compensation.
  2. David Gordon, Superintendent at Sacramento County Office of Education received $315,423 in compensation.
  3. Steven Martinez, Superintendent at Twin Rivers Unified received $314,742.

The average compensation for full-time teachers at 10 of the largest school districts in the Greater Sacramento and Central Valley area is displayed below:

PR-20150812-6

To view the entire dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentCalifornia.com.

“The lack of meaningful correlation between average teacher compensation and school performance, as measured by the district’s 2013 API score, is stunning” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “It does show, however, that simply increasing funding is not an effective way to improve performance.”

Bucher added that, “The doubling of employer contributions towards CalSTRS in the coming years will pose a significant challenge to schools already paying nearly $95,000 a year on average teacher compensation. The data also suggests that this increase in employee compensation is unlikely to improve educational outcomes.”

To schedule an interview with California Policy Center president Mark Bucher, please contact Robert Fellner at 201 206-6469 or Robert@CalPolicyCenter.org.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of two nonpartisan, free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

California Bondage: $200 Billion Education Bond Bill Buoyed by iPads, Financial Chicanery, and Conflicts of Interest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2015
California Policy Center
Contact: Lee Schalk
Lee@calpolicycenter.org
(916) 258-2396

New study offers Californians first glimpse at total state and local education bond obligations

Today the California Policy Center (CPC) released a major new report analyzing the size and scope of California’s education bond obligations. Analyzing all state and local education bond measures, the study finds that since 2001, taxpayers have approved 947 education bond measure at a cost of $110.4 billion, or roughly $200 billion by 2055 factoring in interest payments.

Maintained through a political-industrial-financial complex. The study finds that this intergenerational debt has been propagated by a political-industrial-financial complex, whereby each party scratches each-others backs to feast at the taxpayer trough. Politicians push the creation of grand projects. Construction companies and unions push lucrative make-work projects. And wealthy investors push tax-free and risk-free interest payments guaranteed by the taxpayers.

Dark money and a lower passage threshold mean 80% of bond measures pass. Due to the support of these entrenched interests, and massive public- and investor-funded bond proposition campaigns, the study finds more than 80 percent of education bond measures have passed since 2001. In 2000, Proposition 39 reduced the threshold needed for bond issuances to pass form two-thirds to 55 percent, greatly increasing their rate of passage.

Some bond proceeds go to instructional materials like iPads rather than intended school construction. The study uncovers widespread waste in the spending of bond money, with districts stretching legal definitions to use proceeds from bond sales to pay for instructional materials like iPads rather than construction. Such equipment may be obsolete well before the bonds mature, meaning that future generations will pay for these devices long after they are outdated and discarded.

Zero-coupon bonds stick taxpayers with entire inflated bill – including interest – at future date. The study also points to the pernicious and overlooked use of “Capital Appreciation Bonds” or zero-coupon bonds, which allow school and college districts to borrow now for construction and pay it back – with compounded interest – many years later at an exponentially higher sum. The borrowing strategy has been a tempting and dangerous lure for elected school and college boards, and its complexity means that taxpayers are often unable to understand the true extent of future bond obligations.

Poway Unified is cautionary tale for such reckless bond-financing.The study highlights the story of Poway Unified School District as the poster child for this reckless borrowing with Capital Appreciation Bonds. Between 2008 and 2011, the district borrowed $179 million and now faces a burden of $1.27 billion in debt service through 2051 because of massive interest obligations. San Diego Unified School District faces a similar billion dollar bill, the vast majority of which is interest.

Oversight and education is needed.The study offers solutions for reform, including increasing oversight and accountability of bond measures, reducing the conflicts of interest that keep bond measures passing, and informing voters of the true extent of bond financing. State taxpayers need a clearinghouse where they can find out the current obligations of school districts to better inform their vote. This study is a long overdue first step in that direction.

To read the full report, click here.

Ed Ring, executive director of California Policy Center and co-author of the report, released the following statement:

With each successive bond passage, California’s fiscal situation worsens. Propped up by dark money, complexity, and a political-industrial-financial complex, these bonds are passed off as free money “for the kids.” But they are little more than massive fiscal obligations, meaning the only thing “for the kids” is the massive tax bill that awaits.

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For more information, visit californiapolicycenter.org. To schedule an interview, contact Lee Schalk at 916-258-2396 or lee@calpolicycenter.org.

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

Transparent California Releases 2014 Salary Data for California State and University Employees

For Immediate Release
July 14, 2015
California Policy Center
Contact: Robert Fellner
Robert@Calpolicycenter.org
(201) 206-6469

Transparent California Releases 2014 Salary Data for California State and University Employees

Average State compensation package is $110,663; Average CSU compensation is $103,864

TUSTIN — Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released previously unseen 2014 salary and benefits data for 240,531 California State and 62,540 California State University (CSU) employees.

The average compensation package for full-time, year-round California State employees was $110,663, with 91,944 employees earning at least $100,000 in total compensation. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a base salary of equal or greater than the “annual salary minimum” associated with their position.

The highest earner was Theodore H Eliopoulos, who earned $856,543 as chief investment officer for CalPERS.

The next three highest earners were:

Foley’s pay was boosted by a lump sum payout of just under $350,000, most likely coming from cashing in unused vacation or sick leave. John Dupre, a staff psychiatrist at San Quentin state prison, had the largest lump sum payout of any state employee, receiving just under $460,000.

The top 10 departments with the highest average earnings, for those with at least 500 employees, are displayed below:

Average 2014 Compensation by State Department

Department Average Compensation Count
California Highway Patrol $152,799 9,682
Court Of Appeal $137,085 575
Judicial Council $128,376 601
Corrections And Rehabilitation $127,444 38,362
Forestry And Fire Protection $126,839 4,889
Air Resources Board $124,933 1,048
Water Resources $123,572 2,381
Corrections And Rehabilitation/CCHCS $118,668 2,413
Water Resources Control Board $117,478 1,376
Dept Of State Hospitals $113,899 7,271

California State University

The average compensation for CSU employees was $103,864. The top earner was Zarin Mehta, co-executive director of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State, who made $596,957 in 2014.

The next three highest earners were:

The average compensation for all 21 presidents in CSU was $416,321. The top 10 highest compensated positions, for those with at least 100 employees, are displayed below:

Average 2014 CSU Compensation by Job Title

Job Title Average Compensation Count
Administrator IV $225,758 473
Administrator III $163,788 1001
Department Chair – 12 Month $157,357 350
Instructional Faculty – 12 Month $148,750 161
Department Chair – Academic Year $146,773 254
Instructional Faculty – Academic Year $123,539 7319
Police Officer $123,115 133
Administrator II $120,261 1515
Analyst/Programmer -12 $113,969 511
Librarian – 12 Month $112,079 177

Ed Ring, executive director of the California Policy Center remarked that, “It is unsurprising that the California Highway Patrol has the highest compensation of any department in the state, given their extremely lucrative pension benefits that are now costing taxpayers a record high 43.5 percent of payroll.” Ring went on to say that, “despite misleading promises that these pension enhancements would cost taxpayers nothing, the exact opposite happened.”

To view the entire report in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentCalifornia.com.

 

To schedule an interview with California Policy Center executive director Ed Ring, please contact Robert Fellner at 201 206-6469 or Robert@CalPolicyCenter.org.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of two nonpartisan, free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

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Transparent California Releases University of California’s 2014 Pension Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tustin, California
July 2, 2015
Contact: Robert Fellner
Robert@Calpolicycenter.org
(201) 206-6469

Transparent California Releases University of California’s 2014 Pension Data

Average UC pension is $91,430; UC San Francisco leads system with average pension of $102,899

TUSTIN — Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released previously unseen 2014 pension records for 49,516 University of California pensioners, data that was received through a series of public records requests.

The data reveals that the average pension – excluding benefits and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) – for recent, full-career retirees from the University of California system was $91,430 in 2014. Such inflated payouts are a major reason for the pension system’s $12.1 billion unfunded liability, and have been cited as a major reason for the proposed tuition increases last fall.

The average pension varied widely by school, with UC San Francisco retirees averaging $102,899 pensions, and UC Merced retirees averaging $67,539 pensions:

UC Campus Average Pension*
San Francisco $102,899
Santa Cruz $99,388
Los Angeles $98,740
Berkeley $89,346
Davis $86,684
San Diego $84,254
Irvine $83,385
Santa Barbara $82,560
Riverside $77,433
Merced $67,539

*Average pension payout for full-career (at least 30 years of service), recent (2013 or 2014) retirees

Among the 2014 University of California pension payouts, 190 retirees took home more than $200,000, excluding benefits and COLA, which would bump many more retirees above this threshold. (University of California refused to provide Transparent California with benefit information or COLA data for its pensioners, seemingly in violation of the California Public Records Act. Without this information the total pension payout is understated, dramatically so for those who retired many years ago.)

Ten University of California retirees took home base pensions greater than $300,000 – excluding benefits and COLA – in 2014:

The $300 Thousand Club

NameCampusPension
Fawzy I. FawzyUC Los Angeles$354,469
Dennis L. MatthewsUC Davis$342,636
Marvin MarcusUC Los Angeles$337,346
John S. GreenspanUC San Francisco$326,070
George W. BreslauerUC Berkeley$315,720
Heinrich R SchelbertUC Los Angeles$314,027
Allan D. SiefkinUC Davis$309,593
Nosratola D VaziriUC Irvine$308,320
Joe W. GrayLawrence Berkeley$303,856
Richard W RollUC Los Angeles$303,170

“This data is a stark reminder of the true reason for increasing tuition costs,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “Further, the University of California’s reckless decision to stop funding their pension plan from 1990-2010 produced a $12 billion unfunded liability and massive intergenerational inequity. The cost for these benefits was shifted, entirely, from the employees’ who would receive them, onto a new generation of teachers and taxpayers who received none of their benefits.”To view the entire pension report in a searchable and downloadable format, click here.

To schedule an interview with California Policy Center president Mark Bucher, please contact Robert Fellner at 201 206-6469 or Robert@CalPolicyCenter.org.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of two nonpartisan, free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

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Los Angeles Public vs. Charter Schools: New Study Compares Cost Per-Pupil and Educational Achievement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California
June 3, 2015
Contact: Jordan Bruneau
(916) 258-2396

Los Angeles Public vs. Charter Schools: New Study Compares Cost Per-Pupil and Educational Achievement

California Policy Center report concludes that per-pupil costs are lower and educational achievement is higher at Los Angeles Unified School District charter schools

SACRAMENTO — Today, the California Policy Center released a new study exploring the cost and educational achievement of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) public schools and Alliance College Ready Public Schools, a network of charter schools within LAUSD. The report, co-authored by Marc Joffe, principal consultant at Public Sector Credit Solutions and former Senior Director at Moody’s Analytics, concludes:

  • Charter schools have a lower cost per-pupil than public schools: Per-pupil costs for Alliance charter high school students is $10,649, a 44 percent differential from the $15,372 per-pupil cost for district public schools.
  • Charter schools have higher educational achievement than public schools: In a comparison of the educational achievement between nine LAUSD and nine Alliance charter schools located in the same neighborhood with virtually identical student demographics, the students at the charter schools have:
    • Higher Academic Performance Index (API) scores (762 vs. 701)
    • Higher graduation rates (91.5% vs. 84.1%)
    • Higher normalized SAT scores (1417 vs. 1299)

To read the full report, click here.

“These findings confirm what Los Angeles parents already know: Charter schools can provide a better education for their kids than public schools,” said Ed Ring, executive director at the California Policy Center and the co-author of the report. “The rapidly growing enrollment at charter schools is a threat that teachers unions are evidently unwilling to face without a fight; but rather than improve their product at public schools, they are looking to infiltrate charter schools, at the expense of both children and taxpayers.”

For more information, visit californiapolicycenter.org. To schedule an interview, contact Jordan Bruneau at 916-258-2396 or press@calpolicycenter.org. 

The California Policy Center is a 501c3 non-profit public charity committed to researching public policy solutions to secure a more prosperous future for all Californians.

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Transparent California Releases 2014 CalSTRS Pension Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tustin, California, April 30, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org

Transparent California Releases 2014 CalSTRS Pension Data

TUSTIN — Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released 2014 pension records for 256,305 CalSTRS pensioners, received through a series of public records request.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of two nonpartisan, free market think tanks, the California Policy Center and Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Statewide, 8,888 CalSTRS retirees received pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more was $66,641 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $74,910.
To view the data click here. To explore the data by specific school district click here.

“Widespread six-figure pension payouts for retired educators challenge the popular conception of the poor retired teacher struggling to get by on a fixed pension,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “The release of this data will give policymakers, journalists and Californians-at-large better context of hot-button issues surrounding teacher contracts and compensation.”

The top five biggest pensions statewide went to retired educators in the Greater Los Angeles area. The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients outside of Greater Los Angeles in 2014 were:
• Marilyn Miller, Hillsborough City Elementary, who received $280,035
• Johanna Vandermolen, Campbell Union Elementary, who received $278,003
• Phil Quon, Cupertino Union, who received $274,898

Based on the ten biggest school districts in each region, the average pensions of those who worked 30 years or more in other California regions outside of the Los Angeles area were:

  • Bay Area: $65,414
  • Sacramento & the Central Valley: $63,682
  • Central Coast: $60,532
  • Greater San Diego: $65,605

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#1

Over 1,500 retired educators of Greater Los Angeles receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts in the Greater Los Angeles area 1,541 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $69,002 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $75,554. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in the Greater Los Angeles area in 2014 were:
• William Habermehl, Orange County Office of Education, who received $347,856
• Richard Bray, Tustin Unified School District, who received $307,135
• Edward Hernandez Jr., Rancho Santiago Community College District, who received $304,652

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll in Greater Los Angeles

Greater LA

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#2

Over 400 retired educators of the Bay Area receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts in the Bay Area 403 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $65,413 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $74,220. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in the Bay Area in 2014 were:
• James Smith, Evergreen Elementary, who received $287,434
• Marilyn Miller, Hillsborough City Elementary, who received $280,035
• Johanna Vandermolen, Campbell Union Elementary, who received $278,003

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll in the Bay Area

Bay Area

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#3

Over 280 retired educators of Greater San Diego receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts in the Greater San Diego area 286 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $65,605 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $70,614. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in the Greater San Diego area in 2014 were:
• Rudy Castruita, San Diego County Office of Education, who received $274,265
• Kenneth Noonan, Oceanside Unified, who received $256,547
• Terry Davis, San Diego Community College District, who received $239,735

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll in Greater San Diego

Greater San Diego

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#4

Over 300 retired educators of Sacramento & the Central Valley receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts in Sacramento & the Central Valley 308 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $63,682 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $70,084. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in Sacramento & the Central Valley in 2014 were:
• Jack McLaughlin, Stockton Unified School District, who received $266,899
• James Enochs, Modesto City Elementary, who received $261,510
• Larry Reider, Kern County Office of Education, who received $253,950

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll in Sacramento & the Central Valley

SAC & Central Valley

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#5

Over 50 retired educators of the Central Coast receive eye-popping pension payouts of $100,000 or more

The data reveals that at just the 10 biggest school districts of the Central Coast 55 CalSTRS pensioners took home pension payouts of  $100,000 or more in 2014. The average pension for those who worked 30 years or more at these districts was $60,531 for the year. Of those who retired in 2000 and later, the figure was $66,293. (These payouts do not include the value of generous health benefits.)

The three biggest CalSTRS pension recipients in the Sacramento & the Central Valley in 2014 were:
• Edward Valeau, Hartnell Community College District, who received $249,312
• Douglas Garrison, Monterey Peninsula Community College District, who received $237,662
• Roger Anton, Salinas Union High, who received $209,407

Ten biggest school districts by total payroll of the Central Coast

Central Coast

 

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To schedule an interview with California Policy Center president Mark Bucher, please contact Jordan Bruneau at (916) 258-2396 or jordan@calpolicycenter.org

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California Policy Center Study Exposes School Bond Debt Loophole

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, March 30, 2015
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org, 916-439-2159

Stockton Unified School District Requests More Bond Indebtedness Waivers,
California Policy Center Warns About Process

On Tuesday, March 24, the Stockton Unified School District board of trustees held a hearing and unanimously voted to ask the State Board of Education for two waivers from bond indebtedness limitations in state law.

This would allow this district to circumvent state law and borrow more money for construction and educational technology by selling bonds. The district owes $366 million in bond principal and $869 million in debt service (principal + interest).

“The public doesn’t know enough about how California school districts are requesting and getting bond debt waivers from the State Board of Education,” says Kevin Dayton, who is working with the California Policy Center to research debt accumulated by California school and community college districts through construction bond measures.

On March 19, the California Policy Center published on its website the first comprehensive analysis and detailed report on waivers granted for bond indebtedness.

“We figured a lot of school districts would be requesting waivers from the State Board of Education this year, and Stockton Unified School District is an expert in the process,” says Dayton. “That district has already requested and received two waivers, in 2011 and 2013.”

The State Board of Education has NEVER rejected a request for a waiver: 48 out of 48 have been approved since 2000.

If Stockton Unified School District receives these two waivers, it will be tied with West Contra Costa Unified School District for most waivers given to a district (four waivers).

Dayton says the waiver process needs to be changed or eliminated completely.

“State law does not provide the California Board of Education with enough authority to reject a waiver request and protect taxpayers or their school district,” says Dayton. “Legal criteria for rejecting waivers do not relate to fiscal or budgetary issues for school districts. The waiver process is mainly set up for school districts to seek waivers in order to experiment with pedagogical innovations.”

The study’s conclusion recommends that the State Allocation Board, which manages disbursement of state matching grants for the Office of Public School Construction, should have authority for granting waivers, using clear criteria that sets a reasonable standard for approval.

The study also recommends that the annual reporting requirements concerning waivers from the State Board of Education be expanded to specify which districts are getting what waivers.

SOURCES

Stockton Unified School District March 24, 2015 meeting agenda item to approve a request for two bond indebtedness waivers:

https://californiapolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-03-24-Stockton-USD-Board-Vote-on-Bond-Indebtedness-Waivers.pdf

The California Policy Center comprehensive analysis and detailed report (dated March 19, 2015) on waivers granted for bond indebtedness:

https://californiapolicycenter.org/never-refused-debt-and-tax-limits-always-waived-when-california-school-districts-want-to-borrow-more-money-for-construction-via-bond-sales/

The complete list of waivers, never before available to the public, compiled by the California Policy Center:

https://californiapolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/California-Policy-Center-School-District-Complete-Waiver-History-from-Tax-and-Debt-Limits-2000-February-2015.pdf

Stockton Unified School District: Principal and Debt Service Owed on General Obligation Bonds:

https://californiapolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Stockton-USD-General-Obligation-Bond-Principal-and-Debt-Service-Owed.pdf

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Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org.

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions.
Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

Leading Education Reformer Joins California Policy Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, February 11, 2015
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org.

Former State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero has joined the California Policy Center as its Director of Education Reform.

Romero, founder of the California Center for Parent Empowerment, is one of the strongest Democratic voices in the country advocating for expanding educational opportunities for all children, particularly those who are trapped in chronically under-performing public schools. In 2010, she co-authored and led the charge to pass the historic Parent Empowerment Act (also known as Parent Trigger), which gives parents greater control over their children’s educational futures.

Mark Bucher, California Policy Center president, said, “Gloria is a tireless fighter trying to fix one of the biggest injustices of our time – that tens of thousands of children are getting sub-standard schooling simply because the educational establishment cares more about preserving their own power than they do about improving children’s futures. We’re excited she’ll be leading our education policy efforts at the state and local levels.”

Romero has collaborated with the California Policy Center on several issues of importance to Californians, including education reform, pension reform, and development of a nonpartisan approach to electoral politics.  When the parents at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim began their efforts to demand change at their school, Romero collaborated with the California Policy Center, community leaders, and other grassroots organizations to assist the parents in the launching of a Parent Trigger petition drive, which resulted last month in the first-ever Parent Trigger transformation campaign in Orange County. Nearly 70% of parents at Palm Lane Elementary school, a chronically under-performing school in Anaheim, signed petitions to convert the school into an independently operated, publicly funded charter school as soon as fall 2015.

“I’m pleased to continue fighting for children and parents through the California Policy Center,” Romero said. “Better schools for our children should never be about partisan politics or special interests — it should always be giving parents more control and choices in deciding how best to educate their children.”

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan ‘activist’ think tank focused securing a freer, more prosperous California through education and fiscal reform: www.calpolicycenter.org.

Read Gloria Romero’s full bio here.

*   *   *

Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org.

*   *   *

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions.
Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

Transparent California Releases Compensation Data for 405 cities and 826 Special Districts Statewide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, December 22, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org; media contact Jordan Bruneau, 916-258-2396

#1

Greater Los Angeles Municipal Employees Earned Average of $119,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 143 Greater Los Angeles cities was $119,431 in 2013, with thousands earning more than $200,000 a year and thousands more making at least $50,000 in overtime alone.

City of Los Angeles employees are not included in the average, because while LA employee pay data are now on Transparent California, LA didn’t provide the cost of the health or pension benefits provided to its employees. In the nearby City of Orange, the cost of benefits for a full-time employee is $30,573. Excluding the cost of benefits, the average LA government employee made $91,792 in pay.

Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Greater Los Angeles and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 Greater Los Angeles findings include:

  • 3,970 Greater Los Angeles municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Scott D. Watson, Garden Grove Master Reserve Officer, earned $535,959.
  • Johnny A. Baltazar, Los Angeles Police Officer, earned $500,930.
  • Rodney S. Gould, Santa Monica City Manager, earned $483,954.
    • 2,099 Greater Los Angeles municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Donn D. Thompson, Los Angeles Firefighter, made $242,033 in overtime and $354,259 in total compensation.
    • Charles F. Ferrari, Los Angeles Fire Captain, made $240,229 in overtime and $367,293 in total compensation.
    • Martin Enriquez, Los Angeles Fire Captain, made $222,766 in overtime and $351,642 in total compensation.

Notable 2013 statewide findings include:

  • Average full-time municipal employee compensation statewide was $120,674.
  • Average full-time municipal employee compensation for other regions in California was:
    • North Bay: $130,172
    • South Bay: $141,739
    • Greater Sacramento: $109,785
    • Central Valley: $99,433
    • Greater San Diego: $114,329
    • Northern California: $108,269
    • Central Coast: $111,613
    • 10,675 municipal employees took home over $200,000 with 3,581 making over $50,000 in overtime.

Notable 2013 special district findings include:

  • Average full-time special district employee compensation was $106,592.
  • Average full-time special district compensation for the top five districts were:
    • San Ramon Valley Fire Protection: $245,624
    • Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District: $237,424
    • Montecito Fire Protection: $214,363
    • Woodside Fire Protection District: $211,998
    • Central County Fire Department: $208,583

“Los Angeles civil servants averaging $119,000 a year in compensation means that the term civil servant is no longer appropriate,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “Meanwhile, comparable workers in the private sector have seen their compensation stagnate as an ever-greater amount of their take home pay is diverted to fund these lavish government compensation packages.”

Transparent California also released summary pages for individual cities and counties, which include median government employee and cost per resident. Those pages are available by going to a city or county page and clicking the “View Summary” link.

Transparent California is the largest database of California public employee and retiree compensation with names and now contains over 7.7 million records.

#2

Greater San Diego Municipal Employees Earned Average of $114,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 16 Greater San Diego cities was $114,329 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and hundreds more making at least $50,000 in overtime alone.

City of San Diego employees are not included in the average, because while San Diego employee pay data are now on Transparent California, San Diego didn’t provide the cost of pension benefits provided to its employees. In the nearby City of Chula Vista, the cost of benefits for a full-time employee is $34,199. Excluding the cost of benefits, the average San Diego government employee made $73,881 in pay.

Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Greater San Diego and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 Greater San Diego findings include:

  • 204 Greater San Diego municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Penny Riley, Poway City Manager, earned $345,255.
  • James Sandoval, Chula Vista City Manager, earned $338,182.
  • Williford H. Douglas, El Cajon City Manager, earned $325,978.
    • 337 Greater San Diego municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Edward A. Cormode, San Diego Firefighter, made $183,347 in overtime and $228,105 in total compensation, excluding pension contributions.
    • Jeff T. Gantz, San Diego Fire Engineer, made $158,089 in overtime and $223,791 in total compensation, excluding pension contributions.
    • Gary S. Emerson, San Diego Fire Engineer, made $155,925 in overtime and $211,386 in total compensation, excluding pension contributions.

#3

 North SF Bay Municipal Employees Earned Average of $130,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 55 North Bay cities was $130,172 in 2013, with thousands earning more than $200,000 a year and hundreds more earning more than $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of the North Bay and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 North Bay findings include:

  • 2,006 North Bay municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Walter Shuld, San Pablo Police Chief, earned $440,983.
  • Malcolm E. Miller, Oakland Police Officer, earned $436,256.
  • George R. Silva, Hayward Battalion Chief, earned $428,457.
    • 488 North Bay municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Angel Bobo, Richmond Fire Captain,, made $279,105 in overtime and $508,893 in total compensation.
    • Marc Palechek, Richmond Fire Captain, made $241,578 in overtime and $450,942 in total compensation.
    • Stanley Eng, Vallejo Police Corporal, made $221,073 in overtime and $425,660 in total compensation.

#4

 South SF Bay Municipal Employees Earned Average of $142,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 38 South Bay cities was $141,739 in 2013, with thousands earning more than $200,000 a year and hundreds more earning more than $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of the South Bay and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 South Bay findings include:

  • 2,743 South Bay municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Susan Loftus, San Mateo City Manager, earned $567,106.
  • Gary M. Luebbers, Sunnyvale City Manager, earned $430,066.
  • Debra J. Figone, San Jose City Manager, earned $415,281.
    • 237 South Bay municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Daniel P. Guerra, San Jose Police Officer, made $132,105 in overtime and $336,232 in total compensation.
    • Lanty G. Molloy Jr., Millbrae Fire Captain, made $128,296 in overtime and $304,790 in total compensation.
    • Hector M. Vasquez, San Jose Police Officer, made $124,553 in overtime and $326,637 in total compensation.

#5 

Greater Sacramento Municipal Employees Earned Average of $110,000 in 2013

 TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 26 Greater Sacramento cities was $109,785 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and over 70 making at least $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Greater Sacramento and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 South Bay findings include:

  • 319 Greater Sacramento municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Brita J. Bayless, Roseville City Attorney, earned $362,433.
  • Henry Tingle, Citrus Heights City Manager, earned $360,098.
  • Raymond J. Kerridge, Roseville City Manager, earned $356,208.
    • 73 Sacramento municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Jeffrey Alan Ivy, Sacramento Fire Engineer, made $127,280 in overtime and $249,770 in total compensation.
    • Gregory L. Quick, Sacramento Fire Captain, made $119,863 in overtime and $270,253 in total compensation.
    • Chad Paul Chase, Sacramento Firefighter, made $118,064 in overtime and $240,851 in total compensation.

#6

 Central Valley Municipal Employees Earned Average of $99,000 in 2013

 TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 46 Central Valley cities was $99,433 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and over 35 making at least $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Central Valley and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 Central Valley findings include:

  • 220 Central Valley municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Alan Tandy, Bakersfield City Manager, earned $339,185.
  • Robert E. Deis, Stockton City Manager, earned $327,084.
  • Andria L. Goodspeed, Tracy Police Officer, earned $326,359.
    • 38 Central Valley municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Greg J. Jouroyan, Fresno Police Officer, made $93,190 in overtime and $215,056 in total compensation.
    • Youn B. Seraypheap, Stockton Police Officer, made $85,765 in overtime and $221,877 in total compensation.
    • Kay Dunkel, Ceres Administrative Analyst, made $68,295 in overtime and $161,700 in total compensation.

#7

Northern California Municipal Employees Earned Average of $108,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 20 Northern California cities was $108,269 in 2013, with many earning more than $200,000 a year and many others making at least $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Northern California and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 Northern California findings include:

  • 95 Northern California municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Brian S. Nakamura, Chico City Manager, earned $325,086.
  • Kurt Starman, Redding City Manager, earned $321,091.
  • Richard Duvernay, Redding City Attorney, earned $286,513.
    • 13 Northern California municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Mark Weber, Redding Working Foreman, made $94,431 in overtime and $249,370 in total compensation.
    • David Main, Chico Fire Captain, made $78,043 in overtime and $285,849 in total compensation.
    • Timothy Smith, Redding Fire Engineer, made $65,077 in overtime and $232,436 in total compensation.

#8

Central Coast Municipal Employees Earned Average of $112,000 in 2013

TUSTIN – Today, Transparent California released previously unseen 2013 public employee compensation data – complete with names, pay, and benefits – for 405 cities and 826 special districts statewide on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 30 Central Coast cities was $111,613 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and dozens more making at least $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

To view the comprehensive compensation database for municipal employees of Central Coast and the rest of California – as well as for special districts like fire and water – click here.

Other notable 2013 Central Coast findings include:

  • 360 Central Coast municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
  • Stephen P. Wiley, Santa Barbara City Attorney, earned $355,209.
  • Robert Shultz, Morro Bay City Attorney, earned $351,386.
  • Fred Meurer, Monterey City Manager, earned $328,771.
  • 85 Central Coast municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
  • Raymond LaFontaine, Monterey Fire Captain, made $105,370 in overtime and $319,029 in total compensation.
  • Chris Back, Monterey Firefighter, made $105,235 in overtime and $265,960 in total compensation.
  • Kevin L Bryant, Santa Barbara Fire Captain, made $102,335 in overtime and $259,350 in total compensation.

 *   *   *

To schedule an interview with California Policy Center president Mark Bucher,
please contact Jordan Bruneau at
916-258-2396 or jordan@calpolicycenter.org.

 Transparent California is a project of two nonpartisan, free-market think tanks, the California Policy Center
and Nevada Policy Research Institute. Learn more at 
www.TransparentCalifornia.com.

 *   *   *

 

California Policy Center Study Ranks State's Most Financially Distressed Cities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, November 6, 2014
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org; principal author Marc Joffe, 415-578-0558

Study Ranks Atwater, Chico, Compton and Maywood Among Most Financially Distressed California Cities

The California Policy Center and Civic Partner have released a list of the most financially distressed California cities and counties. The new CPC report, “California’s Most Financially Stressed Cities and Counties,” describes conditions in the ten most fiscally challenged municipalities and provides credit scores for almost 500 California local governments.

The most financially distressed local governments (all of which were cities) in the CPC survey are as follows:
1.  Compton
2.  King City
3.  Sutter Creek
4.  Ione
5.  Maywood
6.  Atwater
7.  Huron
8.  Chico
9.  Calipatria
10.  Ridgecrest
11.  San Fernando
12.  Blythe
13.  Firebaugh

The list excludes Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which remain in bankruptcy. No California city has filed for bankruptcy since the summer of 2012.

The cities were ranked using a credit scoring method previously developed by Public Sector Credit Solutions in a project commissioned by the State Treasurer’s Office. The scoring algorithm considers general fund balance, general fund surplus or deficit, change in annual revenues, debt burden and pension obligations as reflected by the local government’s actuarially required contributions.

The data were gathered by Civic Partner, a web startup that collects and analyzes audited financial statements published by state, county and city governments. Data used to compile the ranking may be viewed next week on Civic Partner’s web site.

Marc Joffe, a consultant to Civic Partner who co-authored the CPC study said “Due to improving economic conditions, most local governments have very little risk of succumbing to bankruptcy over the next year. However, many cities and counties remain vulnerable to an economic downturn. Our study highlights those that are most at risk.”

Ed Ring, CPC’s Executive Director noted that “while cities may not be in near term jeopardy, they face longer term issues arising from pension and employee retirement expenses. Cities and counties need to aggressively manage their costs not only to avoid bankruptcy but to maintain appropriate service levels over the next 5-10 years.”

* * *

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

California Policy Center Study Reveals $11.8 Billion in New School Bonds on Nov. Ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, October 16, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org, 916-439-2159

Concerned About Debt, California Policy Center Seeks to Increase Public Awareness of How Municipal Bonds Work

The California Policy Center has just released some preliminary findings from an ongoing study of school bond financing. The complete study will be released later this year.

In the November election, a record number of K-12 school and community college districts in California want voters to approve bond measures for construction. The California Policy Center wants voters to consider a simple but often overlooked fact:

When voters approve bond measures for educational districts, they authorize the district to borrow money from investors and then pay that money back over time, with interest.

“Bonds do not mean free and easy money,” says Kevin Dayton, who is working with the California Policy Center to research debt accumulated by California school and community college districts through construction bond measures.

Dayton wants voters to understand what they are doing. “When voters approve bond measures, it means their school district will borrow money from investors – paying financial transaction fees in the process – and then pay that borrowed money back to investors, with interest.”

Dayton asserts that voting on a bond measure requires more than a quick response based on emotional appeals. “Voters need to look at the debt already accumulated by the school or college district and consider whether it is wise for the district to take on additional debt.”

Dayton cites as an example the San Mateo Community College District, which is asking voters to authorize borrowing $388 million for construction to add to the $1.2 billion it now owes to investors as debt service from three earlier bond measures. He also cites the Pittsburg Unified School District, which is asking voters to authorize borrowing $85 million for construction to add to the $478 million it now owes to investors as debt service from three earlier bond measures.

On the November 4, 2014 ballot in California are a record 113 individual bond measures for 108 local educational districts. Voters are being asked to authorize these districts to borrow a total of $11.8 billion. Click here for more information including a list of all 113 separate bond measures as well as specific information on the preexisting debt carried by the San Mateo Community College District and the Pittsburg Unified School District.

Dayton urges the local news media to make voters aware of the definition of a bond, the amount of existing bond debt for school districts, and the true cost over time of a bond measure when interest is included. “Look beyond the anecdote about the leaky roof in 2014 and focus on how the money will be obtained and paid back over 30 years or more.”

*   *   *

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions.

First Ever Release of Complete 2013 CalPERS Compensation Data Helps Explain California’s 140 Proposed Tax Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, September 30, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org, 916-258-2396

Average 2013 CalPERS Pension Payout for Career Bureaucrat is $64,448, Twice the Maximum Social Security Retirement Benefit

First Ever Release of Complete 2013 CalPERS Compensation Data Helps Explain California’s 140 Proposed Tax Increases

Today, the California Policy Center (CPC) released never-before-seen 2013 CalPERS base pension payout data, including names, on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest database of government employee and retiree compensation.

The data shows that the average 2013 pension for those who worked 30 years or more and received a full year’s pension was $64,448 for the year. For those who retired in 2000 or later, the average pension was $68,403. This is more than twice the maximum Social Security benefit of $31,704 that a private sector retiree could receive after working for 35 years and retiring at the age of 66.

Such high pensions represent tens of billions of dollars in state and local spending and huge portions of state and local budgets. This fiscal strain helps explain why there are 140 proposed tax increases on Californian ballots this November.

To view the comprehensive database, which includes all 583,045 CalPERS pensioners, click here.

Other notable findings include:

  • 2,335 CalPERS pension recipients took home pensions greater than 100 percent of their CalPERS-determined “final compensation” in 2013.
  • Over 1,100 California State University pensioners are “double dipping,” collecting both a CalPERS pension and a paycheck in 2013. This includes over 60 employees collecting a pension while working as “special consultants” at the campus they “retired” from.
  • 224 CalPERS pension recipients took home pensions greater than $200,000 in 2013. That’s up 39 percent, from 161 retirees, in 2012.
  • 16,838 CalPERS pension recipients took home pensions greater than $100,000 in 2013. That’s up 20 percent, from 13,999 retirees, in 2012.
  • Average pension payouts in the Judicial Retirement System of $115,248 in 2013.
  • The top three biggest pensions CalPERS paid in 2013 went to:
    –  Bruce V. Malkenhorst, City of Vernon, $551,688
    –  Michael D. Johnson, County of Solano, $378,464
    –  Joaquin Fuster, UCLA, $327,417

“Average pensions of $64,448 represent significantly more than what the comparable private sector worker could hope to have on hand for retirement,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “Meanwhile, these same private sector workers are on the hook for the litany of proposed tax increases necessary to fund such profligate pensions.”

*   *   *

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.TransparentCalifornia.com or www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

First Ever Release of School District Compensation Data Uncovers Widespread Double-Dipping and Inflated Pay

For Immediate Release
July 23, 2014
California Policy Center
Media Contact: Jordan Bruneau
(916) 258-2396

First Ever Release of School District Compensation Data Uncovers Widespread Double-Dipping and Inflated Pay

California Think Tank Releases 2013 Database of School District Salaries, Calls for Legislation to End Double-Dipping

TUSTIN – Today, the California Policy Center (CPC) released 2013 school district compensation data, complete with names, on TransparentCalifornia.com, the state’s largest public sector compensation database.

The release marks the first time that compensation data for California’s kindergarten through 12th grade schools has ever been publically released. The data uncovers widespread double-dipping (simultaneously collecting a pension and a salary) and exorbitant pay, even for support staff.

To view the comprehensive database, which represents 62 percent of California school districts, click here. The database contains over 581,000 individual compensation records from 2013 and over 430,000 records from 2012. Highlights include:

  • Double-Dipping:
    • According to the data, well over a thousand CalSTRS pensioners, who retired between 2008 and 2012, also received a salary in 2013.
      • Jane Russo, who “retired” in 2011, collected a 2013 CalSTRS pension of $214,213 as well as $38,321 in 2013 compensation for her work at Santa Ana Unified.
      • Linda Ramirez, who “retired” in 2011, collected a 2013 CalSTRS pension of $62,488 as well as $116,525 in 2013 compensation for her work at Fresno Unified.
      • Michael Clemons, who “retired” in 2010, collected a 2013 CalSTRS pension of $42,678 as well as $128,397 in 2013 compensation for his work at Elk Grove Unified.
  • Superintendent and Teacher Compensation:
    • Average full-time teacher compensation was $84,886 in 2013.
    • 34,756 teachers took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
    • 100 superintendents took home over a quarter of a million dollars in 2013 compensation.
  • School Health and Wellness Compensation:
    • 1,689 counselors took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
    • 1,374 psychologists took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
    • 332 school nurses took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
  • School Support-Staff Compensation:
    • 243 coaches and athletic advisors took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
    • 182 school librarians took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.
    • 31 school custodians took home over $100,000 in total 2013 compensation.

“This data illustrates that double-dipping is far more pervasive than originally thought,” said CPC President Mark Bucher. “So-called public servants should not be allowed to bilk taxpayers out of a second salary because of legal loophole. It is immoral and fiscally irresponsible. As such, the California Policy Center is calling on lawmakers close this loophole and introduce legislation to ban the practice of double-dipping.”

To schedule an interview with CPC President Mark Bucher, contact Jordan Bruneau at (916) 258-2396 or Jordan@CalPolicyCenter.org.

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions.

Learn more at www.TransparentCalifornia.com or www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org

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Lawsuit Filed Against City of Chula Vista for Refusal to Comply With California Public Records Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, May 20, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org, 916-258-2396

California Think Tank Holds City Accountable for Violating State Law

Today, the California Policy Center (CPC) filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court against the city of Chula Vista for refusing to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

CPC is seeking the names and compensation information of Chula Vista public employees.

CPC first requested these records on June 25, 2013. Over the past ten months, the city has stalled and delayed the request numerous times, as city officials continue to refuse to provide the names of its employees connected to their compensation information. This information is public record under Government Code 6250-6270, the California Public Records Act. The California Supreme Court has also required the disclosure of government employee names and salary information in its 2007 International Federation of Professional Technical Engineers v. Superior Court.

In the lawsuit, CPC details several violations committed by Chula Vista:

  • Withholding public records
  • Failure to meet the required deadlines outlined within CPRA
  • Failure to explain why certain public records were withheld
  • Failure to identify who denied access to the public records

The records will become part of the organization’s public salary and pension database available at TransparentCalifornia.com. CPC is requesting that the court order the city to provide the complete public compensation records as required by law.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here, with exhibits here, and the incomplete public compensation records on Transparent California can be seen here.

“In the last ten months, Chula Vista officials have made a mockery of California’s public records act,” said Chad Morgan, the attorney representing CPC in this case. “Citizens have a right to see how Chula Vista is spending their money and who is receiving those tax dollars.

“It’s time for Chula Vista officials to understand that government exists to serve the people, not the other way around,” Morgan continued. “We urge the court to make Chula Vista comply with the public records act, as hundreds of jurisdictions throughout California already have.”

To schedule an interview, contact Jordan Bruneau at (916) 258-2396 or Jordan@CalPolicyCenter.org.

*   *   * 

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.TransparentCalifornia.com or www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org

New Study Exposes Underfunding in County Retirement Systems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, May 7, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org

The California Policy Center has just published a study that compiles the total unfunded retirement liabilities for the twenty California Counties that have their own independent pension systems. These independent pension systems are frequently touted as financially sound, but when unfunded healthcare liabilities and outstanding balances on pension obligation bonds are included, the true picture is far more ominous.

“Even using the official rates of return of 7.5%, when you combine all retirement commitments these counties have made, the counties combined funding ratio is only 60%,” said Ken Churchill, one of the writers of the study. “If you go with a more conservative 5.5% rate of return, the funded ratio drops to 49%. This means there is only 50 to 60 cents available to pay for every dollar in benefits already earned. At some point the debt service becomes so great, the only option becomes bankruptcy.”

Some counties are better off than others. Tiny Tulare county’s official funded ratio for all of their retirement obligations, including health care, stands at a manageable 87%. But Los Angeles county, by far the biggest county in California with an independently managed pension fund, has only set aside assets sufficient to cover 51% of their total retirement obligations – and that is using the official numbers and rates of return.

Other particularly troubled counties include Merced at 47%, Kern at 55%,Sonoma at 59%, Orange and Contra Costa at 60%, Marin at 61%, San Joaquin at 62%.

“When you consider that 5.5% is in fact the cumulative investment rate of return earned by CalPERS during the 13 years from 2001 to 2013, and that the 20 CERL pension systems have had similar earnings rate during this period, even 80% funding ratios aren’t cause for complacency, because they are based on 7.5% average return projections, which haven’t been achieved over the past 12 years,” said Bill Monnet, another co-author of the study.

As is made very clear in this study, retirement obligations negotiated between politicians and government workers are even worse off financially than has been typically reported, not only because these plans use optimistic projections on how much the assets they’ve set aside to fund these benefits can earn, but because along with pensions, taxpayers are carrying liability for pension obligation bonds and retirement healthcare. In most cases, virtually nothing has been set aside to cover healthcare obligations.

To read the entire study, and to see how your county may be doing, click on “Evaluating Total Unfunded Public Employee Retirement Liabilities in 20 California Counties.”

If you have questions or would like to schedule an interview with the authors, please contact press@calpolicycenter.org.

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The California Policy Center publishes studies (ref. CPC Studies) designed to provide quantitative, top-down financial information and analysis of California’s state and local government finances, including reports on total state and local government revenue and expenses, as well as total state and local government debt. Related areas of focus include reports on the solvency of public sector pension plans and public employee total compensation. Other areas of focus include campaign finance and the impact of influential participants including corporate interests and public sector unions. The California Policy Center aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on these vital issues, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions.

Even Accounting for Environmental Costs, Oil and Gas Development To Have Net Positive Impact on California Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, April 1, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org, 916-258-2396

Expansion Could Generate Nearly 300,000 New Jobs Per Year Through 2035,
Between $1 and $4.5 Billion in Annual Tax Gains

Today, the California Policy Center (CPC) released a new study from a University of Wyoming economist analyzing the realistic economic and environmental impacts that offshore oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing could have in California. In his report, Dr. Tim Considine used conservative estimates of the benefits and erred on the high side for environmental costs, and determined that the benefits significantly outweigh the costs.

The benefits include an average annual employment increase of between 67,000 and 299,000 during development, average annual gains in state and local taxes ranging from $1 billion to $4.5 billion per year, and a net economic benefit of roughly $30 billion per year – again using conservative, mid-range estimates of the benefits, and net of the cost of environmental damages.

You can view the full report here: “The Benefits and Costs of Oil and Gas Development in California

The new study concludes that the “net economic benefits defined as value added less the expected environmental impact costs are between $7 and $30 billion per year.” The report assesses that “Directional drilling offers the possibility of safely accessing a significant portion of the estimated 10 billion barrels of offshore oil and gas from land-based drilling rigs. Another opportunity is to develop the Monterey shale in the Central Valley region, which may hold up to 15 billion barrels of crude oil. At current market prices, these assets are worth $2.5 trillion, which, if monetized, could generate hundreds of billions in tax and royalty revenues to fund pensions, education, health, and other government programs.”

This month, state and city officials continue to discuss enacting new regulations that would prevent such expansion, while Los Angeles and Carson City have already began to impose such moratoriums, according to the Los Angeles Times. But Dr. Considine’s report, which takes into account environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, the expected value of oil spill costs, and the costs associated with other environmental events, finds that the benefits of oil and gas expansion far outweigh the costs for California.

“At a time when California’s state and local governments are struggling with budget shortfalls and high rates of unemlpoyment, now is the time to safely capitalize on developing the valuable oil and gas resources available in the Golden State,” said CPC Executive Director Ed Ring. “Dr. Considine’s comprehensive research shows that even using conservative estimates, the benefits of oil development in California significantly outweigh the costs.”

To schedule an interview, contact Carson Putnam at (916) 258-2396 or Carson@CalPolicyCenter.org.

The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Releases Sobering Study on Sonoma County's Pension Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, January 16, 2014
Contact: press@calpolicycenter.org

The California Policy Center has just published an alarming study of Sonoma County’s pension crisis. The study was written by New Sonoma, a volunteer organization of financial experts and citizens concerned about the finances and governance of Sonoma County.

The study describes how the County has incurred over a billion dollars in unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities, how the County ignored the requirements to notify the citizens of cost of the benefit increases, and failed to follow the Board of Supervisor’s resolution requiring the employees to pay for the increase. The report also provides a comparison of Sonoma County’s pension system with several neighboring counties.

The following is a summary of the study’s findings.

(1) Sonoma County is approaching balance sheet insolvency, which means the County’s liabilities will exceed their net assets when the GASB’s new accounting standards take effect. These will require the County to list their pension liabilities on their balance sheet in 2014, and unfunded retiree medical liabilities by 2016.

(2) The key driver of the pension problem was the retroactive increases which took effect in 2003 and 2006 for Safety and 2004 for General employees. The increases lead to higher pensions, accelerated retirement rates and reduced the average retirement age by 5 years.

(3) The retroactive increases combined with a new definition of pensionable compensation increased pensions by 66% for General Employees and 69% for Safety Employees after the increases were enacted.

(4) Even though the Board of Supervisors Resolutions authorizing the new formula required the General Employees to pay the entire past and future cost of the increase and Safety Employees to pay the past cost, the resolutions were never enforced. In fact, in the 2008 contract negotiations the County picked up all but 1% of the employee contributions.

(5) The County’s pension costs have climbed from $24 million in 2001 to $122 million in 2012. Even with these increased costs, the system has $1.3 billion dollars in unfunded pension, retiree health care and pension obligation bond liabilities.

(6) When comparing Sonoma County’s pension costs with Tulare, Mendocino, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin and Contra Costa counties the study found that their average pension costs were 16% of the General Fund while Sonoma’s were more than double at 36%. As a percent of the general fund, no other county in California has pension costs as high as Sonoma County.

(7) When adding payroll costs, the total climbs to 120% of the General Fund. The average for the other six counties analyzed is 60%.

(8) The County currently has a funding ratio of 60% for pension and retiree health care benefits. That means there is only 60 cents available for every dollar for benefits already earned. This ratio assumes a 7.5% return on investments. If a more conservative 5.5% return is used, the funded ratio drops to 50%.

(9) Sonoma County employees receive on average $110,000 per year in salary and pension benefits, plus health insurance for life after 10 years of service. This is double the average salary and retirement benefits of Sonoma County residents.

(10) Increased pension costs in the years ahead have far reaching implications for the all Sonoma County residents, including; (a) unsustainable annual costs for taxpayers, (b) burden on active County employees, (c) threats to vital public services, and (d) the potential for the County to run out of money and go bankrupt resulting in loss of health care and a reduction of pensions for retirees as has happened in Stockton and Detroit.

“This report is a call to action to solve this deepening crisis that threatens the retirement security of Sonoma County employees and retirees, and the quality of life and economic prosperity of all Sonoma County residents,” said Ken Churchill, founder and director of New Sonoma and principal author of the study.

To read the entire study, click on “Sonoma County’s Pension Crisis – Analysis and Recommendations.”

If you have questions or would like to schedule an interview with the authors, please contact press@calpolicycenter.org.

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The California Policy Center publishes studies (ref. CPC Studies) designed to provide quantitative, top-down financial information and analysis of California’s state and local government finances, including reports on total state and local government revenue and expenses, as well as total state and local government debt. Related areas of focus include reports on the solvency of public sector pension plans and public employee total compensation. Other areas of focus include campaign finance and the impact of influential participants including corporate interests and public sector unions. The California Policy Center aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on these vital issues, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions

CPC Study Finds CalSTRS Contributions Grossly Inadequate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, November 12, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

Saddled with a massive debt on what is needed to meet its pension obligations the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) added more than $4.0 billion to that debt in 2012 because it chose to underfund its so-called “catch-up” payment. That is the conclusion reached by a study released this week by the California Policy Center. Using data from publicly disclosed financial reports – the most recent CalSTRS annual report as well as their most recent actuarial valuation and review – the study evaluated how much cash was actually contributed to the plan in 2012, including how much was contributed to pay down their unfunded liability.

During the fiscal year ended 6-30-2012 CalSTRS collected $5.8 billion from employees and employers to invest in their pension fund. Of this $5.8 billion, $4.7 billion was the so-called “normal contribution,” which was a payment to cover the present value of future pensions earned during 2012 by actively employed participants. The other $1.1 billion that was collected and invested in the fund was a “catch-up” payment to reduce the unfunded liability, which at the end of 2012 was officially estimated to be $71.0 billion.

Using pension evaluation formulas and unfunded liability payback terms formally recommended by Moody’s Investor Services in April 2013, this study shows that if the “catch-up” payment is calculated based on a level payment, 20 year amortization of the $5.6 billion unfunded liability – still assuming a 7.50% rate-of-return projection – the 2012 catch-up payment should have been $7.0 billion per year, nearly seven times what was actually paid. The study also shows that if the OCERS pension fund rate-of-return projection drops to 6.20% (the historical performance of U.S. equity investments, including dividends, between 1900 and 1999) the unfunded liability recalculates to $107.8 billion and the catch-up payment increases to $9.6 billion per year. At a rate-of-return projection of 4.81% (recommended by Moody’s), the unfunded liability recalculates to $154.9 billion and the catch-up payment increases to $12.2 billion per year.

The conclusion of this study is that CalSTRS relies on optimistic long-term earnings projections and very aggressive unfunded liability repayment schedules in order to contribute the absolute minimum each year into their pension fund. As a result, the study estimates their officially recognized unfunded liability actually increased during 2012 by over $4.0 billion. If CalSTRS is required to even incrementally lower their rate-of-return projections – something that market conditions may eventually dictate – their funded ratio which was already only 67.02% will fall precipitously.

To read the entire study, click on “Are Annual Contributions Into CalSTRS Adequate?

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Finds Orange County Pension Plan Contributions Grossly Inadequate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, September 13, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

Saddled with a massive debt on what is needed to meet its pension obligations to County workers and other participants, the Orange County Employee Retirement System (OCERS) added more than $100 million to that debt in 2012 because it chose to underfund its so-called “catch-up” payment. That is the conclusion reached by a study released this week by the California Policy Center. Using data from publicly disclosed financial reports – the most recent OCERS annual report as well as their most recent actuarial valuation and review – the study evaluated how much cash was actually contributed to the plan in 2012, including how much was contributed to pay down their unfunded liability.

During 2012 OCERS collected $628 million from employees and employers to invest in their pension fund. Of this $628 million, $410 million was the so-called “normal contribution,” which was a payment to cover the present value of future pensions earned during 2012 by actively employed participants. The other $218 million that was collected and invested in the fund was a “catch-up” payment to reduce the unfunded liability, which at the end of 2012 was officially estimated to be $5.6 billion.

Using pension evaluation formulas and unfunded liability payback terms formally recommended by Moody’s Investor Services in April 2013, this study shows that if the “catch-up” payment is calculated based on a level payment, 20 year amortization of the $5.6 billion unfunded liability – still assuming a 7.25% rate-of-return projection – the 2012 catch-up payment should have been $546 million per year, more than twice what was actually paid. The study also shows that if the OCERS pension fund rate-of-return projection drops to 6.20% (the average return for OCERS since 2004) the unfunded liability recalculates to $7.74 billion and the catch-up payment increases to $685 million per year. At a rate-of-return projection of 4.81% (recommended by Moody’s), the unfunded liability recalculates to $10.95 billion and the catch-up payment increases to $865 million per year.

The inescapable conclusion of this study is that OCERS has relied on optimistic long-term earnings projections and adopted very aggressive unfunded liability repayment schedules in order to pay the absolute minimum into their pension fund in 2012. As a result, their officially recognized unfunded liability actually increased during 2012 by over $100 million. If OCERS is required to even incrementally lower their rate-of-return projections – something that market conditions may eventually dictate – their funded ratio which is already only 62.52% will fall precipitously.

To read the entire study, click on “Are Annual Contributions Into Orange County’s Employee Pension Plan Adequate.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Provides Tools to Estimate Pension Liabilities and Contributions Using Various Assumptions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, July 29, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

With the recent announcement that Detroit has declared bankruptcy, many wonder how their city, county, school district, or other government organization is doing. To help keep elected officials accountable, the California Policy Center has released a simple spreadsheet and tutorial that estimates the unfunded liabilities and the required annual payments for any pension plan, using assumptions chosen by the user.

“Detroit, Stockton, San Bernardino, and Vallejo are sad reminders that the pension dilemma is real,” said Bob Loewen, a member of the CPPC Board. “Unfunded liabilities can sneak up on a city without warning because the accounting makes it fairly easy to hide the damage being done. That’s why CPPC keeps finding ways to make it easier for people to make their government more transparent. That’s what our Executive Director Ed Ring has done with this new spreadsheet and tutorial.”

The spreadsheet prepared by the CPPC empowers a user to perform “what-if” analysis on the financial statements of public employee pension funds. To provide an example, the downloadable spreadsheet uses data that attempts to replicate the consolidated financial status of all of California’s public employee pension plans. The example uses the 5.7% Moody’s rate of return and a moderately accelerated payment plan, eliminating the unfunded liability over a 20 year period. Wherever possible, using assumptions and logic from Moody’s recent pronouncements on pensions – the spreadsheet calculates new estimates for California’s total estimated unfunded liability, normal required pension contribution, and “catch-up” contribution to reduce the unfunded liability.

When entering these values, using the sources and assumptions as described, the following changes to the financial condition of California’s public employee pensions would be indicated as of 6-30-2011 (the most recent year for which consolidated data is available):

All California Public Sector Pensions – Revalued Unfunded Liability:
– Officially reported unfunded liability = $158 billion.
– Revalued unfunded liability at 5.7% annual rate of return (discount rate) = $315 billion.

All California Public Sector Pensions – Revalued Annual Required Contribution:
– Officially reported total pension contributions (normal and catch-up) = $27.6 billion.
– Revalued total pension contributions (normal and catch-up) = $43.3 billion (based on an estimated normal contribution of $16.6 billion and a catch-up contribution of $26.7 billion).

“Anyone with basic financial knowledge and spreadsheet skills can use this,” said Mark Bucher, chair of CPPC and an enthusiast for government transparency. “A lot of times elected officials come to office without knowing about a cozy deal that was made years ago by someone who is not even around. But that official still has a responsibility to the people who elected him, and this model will help him figure out what’s going on in the financial statements of any public employee pension fund.”

To read the entire study, click on “A Method to Estimate the Pension Contribution and Pension Liability for Your City or County.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Finds Orange County Again Confronting Bankruptcy Under New Accounting Rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, June 4, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

A new study published by the California Policy Center analyzes the impact of GASB and Moody’s new – and final – rules governing financial reporting for pensions. These rules take effect next year.

If Orange County had been using the just adopted GASB rulings governing pension accounting back in 2011, instead of the County having a net worth of nearly $4.0 billion, the county would have had a negative net worth of $140 million. Even worse, if Orange County’s credit had been analyzed back in 2011 (a critical step necessary before a public entity can issue bonds) using Moody’s recently finalized new criteria for evaluating pension liabilities, the County would have had a net worth of negative $3.1 billion, instead of the positive $4.0 billion they reported to taxpayers. According to these new financial guidelines which take effect next year, Orange County has been overstating its financial net worth by somewhere between $4.0 and $7.0 billion. This example is typical.

“The abyss of pension debt that state and local governments have imposed on the people is about to be exposed,” said John Dickerson, author of the study, “the degree to which this debt is destroying vital public services will be much clearer than ever before.”

“Our politicians have been hiding behind phony financial statements. We have been making promises to our public employees that we cannot afford. These new financial standards will allow everyone to see the true costs of the promises politicians have made to public employees,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “Orange County is once again confronting bankruptcy. It is immoral and irresponsible to be making promises to future retirees without setting aside the money to pay for them. We are saddling our children and our grandchildren with debt that they will never be able to repay.”

This new report by John Dickerson, a financial analyst based in Mendocino County, demonstrates what’s about to happen by applying GASB’s new pension reporting rules and Moody’s adopted adjustments to seven counties in California. He previously provided analysis of Moody’s proposed adjustments. This new report analyzes Moody’s final adopted adjustments and compares them with what Moody’s proposed last summer.

The seven counties analyzed in the study have independent County Pension Funds instead of participating in CalPERS. They are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Mendocino, San Mateo and Sonoma Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County in Southern California. Their June 2011 financial statements are adjusted to show what they would have been had GASB 68 been in effect – and had Moody’s applied their adopted adjustments.

These counties together reported their Assets were worth $10 Billion more than their debts. GASB 68 would have cut that margin by 90% – down to $1 Billion. Over $8 Billion of Net Pension Liabilities (unfunded pension debt) would have been forced onto their statements and $1 Billion of “fake” Net Pension Assets would have been written off. Three counties would have reported more debt than assets.

Moody’s adjustments are even more stunning. They would have recalculated these counties’ unfunded pension debt to be nearly $18 billion – $10 Billion more than GASB’s rules would have shown. Collectively Moody’s would have assumed these counties had nearly $7.5 Billion more debt than assets. Only Marin would be left “above water” with more assets than debt. Marin has the highest per capita income of all counties in the United States. Two counties – Contra Costa and Mendocino – would be deemed by Moody’s as having 2½ times more debt than assets.

“Very few governments have focused on the new pension reporting rules. They’re going to hit thousands of local and many state governments like a ton of bricks. A revolution in how state and local governments report their pension finances is coming,” said Dickerson.

To read the entire study, click on “Moody’s Final Adopted Adjustments of Government Pension Data.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Estimates California's Total State and Local Government Debt Exceeds $1.0 Trillion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, April 30, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

A new study published by the California Policy Center estimates the total state and local government debt in California between $848 billion and $1.1 trillion. The study, authored by CPPC researchers Bill Fletcher and Ed Ring, is the result of extensive interviews with state employees and analysis of reports from dozens of state and local agencies. It provides a comprehensive tabulation of the many sources of debt incurred by cities, counties, special districts, redevelopment agencies, school districts, and the state, as well as the unfunded liabilities for retiree pensions and health care.

“Nobody in California government wants to officially admit that taxpayers are now on the hook for over $1.0 trillion in state and local government debt,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “This study should be an eye-opener. A trillion dollars of debt equates to over $80,000 for every Californian household.”

This study is part of an ongoing CPPC project to provide a more transparent view of California’s state and local government finances. Co-Author Bill Fletcher said, “It’s important to look at California’s state and local government ‘balance sheet’ to answer how much do we owe. Government debts are deferred taxes. We need to ask some important questions such as are our debts growing faster than the state’s economy that has to support the debt? Are we passing on today’s expenses to future taxpayers through borrowing? When and how does it end?”

The study compiles information on California’s state and local government debt, relying primarily on official reports prepared by the State Controller and State Treasurer. When, along with the $27.8 billion “Wall of Debt,” long-term debt incurred by California’s state, county, and city governments, along with school districts, redevelopment agencies and special districts are totaled, the outstanding balance is $383.0 billion. The officially recognized unfunded liability for California’s public employee retirement benefits – pensions and retirement health care – adds another $265.1 billion. Applying a potentially more realistic 5.5% discount rate to calculate the unfunded pension liability adds an additional $200.3 billion. All of these outstanding debts combined total $848.4 billion. The study also shows that by extrapolating from available data that is either outdated or incomplete, and using a 4.5% discount rate to calculate the unfunded pension liability, the estimated total debt soars to over $1.1 trillion.

The conclusion of this study is (1) the outstanding debt owed by California’s state and local governments, using responsible actuarial assumptions, is almost certainly in excess of $1.0 trillion, and (2) it is surprising that none of our government institutions in California can themselves provide an authoritative estimate of total state and local government debt, updated annually and available to the public.

To read the entire study, click on “Calculating California’s Total State and Local Government Debt.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Finds Average Total Compensation For Irvine City Worker is $143,691 Per Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, April 9, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

A new study published by the California Policy Center shows the average full-time employee with the City of Irvine made $143,691 in total compensation during 2012, according to records provided to the CPPC by the city’s own payroll department. The median total compensation, which means that exactly half of the employees made less than this amount, and half made more, was $133,782 during 2012.

These figures, which reflect how much employees make when the city’s payments for their direct benefits are included, stand in stark contrast to the California State Controller’s reported “average wages” for Irvine’s city employees, which is reported to be only $48,506 per year. This amount, which is restricted to base wages and includes part-time employees in the average, is unfortunately the only one that journalists often report when investigating compensation statistics for employees of California’s cities and counties.

This is the fourth such detailed analysis of local government employee compensation performed by the CPC in the past year. Along with Irvine, compensation studies have been completed for Costa MesaAnaheim, and San Jose. In all cases, the average total compensation for employees of those cities has been between $140,000 and $150,000 per year.

“It is vital for journalists, politicians and voters to fully understand the concept of total compensation,” said the study’s author, financial analyst Ed Ring. “Because base wages and salaries are only part of what workers earn. Any costs for any direct benefits provided an employee that are paid for by the employer are part of that worker’s total compensation, and this amount is the only truly meaningful measurement that can be used when comparing rates of pay in the public sector to rates of pay in the private sector.”

Also revealed in the study was the actual cost per resident and per household to pay Irvine’s city employees. The State Controller, in the standard summary they provide for each of California’s cities and counties, lists Irvine’s per capita “amount spent on total wages per resident” at $337 per year. But when you add the cost of benefits, and allocate the cost of county firefighting services since those are contracted out by the city, the actual per capita cost is nearly twice as much, $634 per year. On a more meaningful per household basis, the direct personnel costs to provide municipal services in Irvine is actually $1,649 per year. To fully fund pensions and retirement health care obligations could mean this amount will go much higher.

“Journalists have an obligation to report complete and accurate total compensation statistics for California’s full-time state and local government employees,” said the study’s author, “because it is central to any discussion of public sector finance.”

To read the entire study, click on “Irvine, California – City Employee Compensation Analysis.” Members of the media are also invited to present municipal compensation data to CPPC researchers for assistance with their analysis.

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Estimates Shows New GASB Rules Will Wipe Billions in Net Assets Off Government Balance Sheets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, March 19, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

In a new study published by the California Policy Center financial analyst John Dickerson examined Bill Gates’ assertion that only pension “accounting fraud allows governments to pretend their budgets are balanced”. Although Dickerson uses the term “fatally flawed accounting” he concludes Gates is essentially correct.

New pension finance reporting rules imposed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board will be phased in over the next couple of years. Dickerson analyzed the 2011 audited financial statements of seven California counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Mendocino, Orange, San Mateo, and Sonoma) and showed how different they would have been under the new rules. These counties would have disclosed $9 billion of real past pension expenses they have never reported to the people. This would have cut their combined net worth from a reported $10 billion to less than $1.0 billion.

“The fatal flaw in today’s rules”, states Dickerson, “is that governments report the pension expenses that created today’s huge unfunded pension debt over as many as 40 years in the future as they pay the debt. That’s absurd. The payments of a debt eliminate the debt – they don’t create it.”

Dickerson shows how this “fatal flaw” allowed hundreds of billions of unfunded government pension debt to develop without the public knowing about it.

GASB’s key reforms are first – governments will be forced to report pension expenses that create government debt as they occur – not when the debt is paid, and second – governments will be required to report unfunded pension obligations as liabilities on their balance sheets, eliminating a loophole in current rules.

Dickerson also shows how governments that sold Pension Obligation Bonds in the past offset most of that debt with “Net Pension Assets” that have no value. These counties would have written off $1 billion of these assets as worthless.

“Very few governments have figured out the impact of these new rules” says Dickerson. “Oceans of red ink will be poured on state and local governments.”

The study also estimates the impact of using an assumed rate of future Pension Fund investment profits of 5.5% that Moody’s proposes to use in its government credit rating process. As Dickerson writes: “These seven all together would drop from $10.2 billion of Net Assets down to a negative $8.3 billion hole – $19 billion less. On average, they would have more unfunded pension debt than assets.”

To read the entire study, click on “Unmasking Staggering Pension Debt and Hidden Expense.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.

CPC Study Shows Unfunded Pension Liability Will Triple To $328 Billion in 2014, Using Moody's Proposed New Criteria

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, California, February 25, 2013
Contact:  press@calpolicycenter.org

California’s state and local government pension plan problems are going to get a lot bigger in 2014 under new criteria proposed to be implemented by credit reporting leader Moody’s.  That’s the conclusion of a new study published by the California Policy Center, which concludes that the total unfunded pension liability for California’s non-federal government employees will nearly triple to $328 billion, or $8,600 per California resident.

Not only will state and local governments face pressure from rating agencies to recalculate their unfunded pension liabilities at much higher values, but for the first time, in 2014 they are going to have to include these liabilities on their balance sheets.

“In 2014,  new GASB rules will require California’s local governments to acknowledge their actual unfunded pension obligations on their balance sheets,” said Mark Bucher, president of the California Policy Center. “Unless they take action now, the finances of many local governments will be devastated, and they will be forced to cut vital services.”

Under the old rules, the study shows, total unfunded liability was $128.3 billion, but Moody’s has proposed that new, stricter rules go into effect in 2014, which will bump the unfunded liabilities up to $328 billion, nearly triple the total.

The study also includes scenarios that validate research done in late 2011 by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where, using a 4.5% discount rate instead of Moody’s recommended 5.5% discount rate, the unfunded pension liability for California’s state and local governments was revalued at nearly $500 billion.

The calculations are based on the most recent data available from the State Controller’s office.  Included are downloadable spreadsheets that allow readers to conduct their own analysis using their own assumptions.

Over the next few months, the California Policy Center intends to release follow up studies that will estimate the impact of the new GASB and Moody’s proposed changes on select local government financial statements.

To read the entire study, click on “How Lower Earnings Will Impact California’s Total Unfunded Pension Liability.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at www.CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.