The CalPERS' governing board during a meeting several years ago at the pension fund's headquarters. (Photo: CalPERS board)
California pension funds take a bigger share of tax revenue than the national state average, a research website shows. Why the growing costs are outpacing the norm is not completely clear. A prime suspect for some would be overly generous pensions, particularly what critics say is an “unsustainable” increase for police and firefighters widely adopted to match a big increase given the Highway Patrol by SB 400 in 1999.
But a series of state court rulings are widely believed to mean that the pension offered current workers on the date of hire becomes a vested right, protected by contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a new benefit of comparable value. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas said in her ruling the question before her court is “one of law, not of policy,” referring to a state Supreme Court response to city and county briefs on an Orange County attempt to cut retirement costs.