Reforming our Pension System

October 21, 2005 Ten months after the Governor called the state’s pension obligations to government employees a “financial train on another track to disaster” in his State of the State address, the administration reached a first-of-its-kind pension agreement with a state employee union. The union representing state lawyers and administrative law judges agreed to pension reforms that make workers contribute more to their pensions, and that end the practice of pension “spiking.”

April 4, 2010 A Stanford University study commissioned by Governor Schwarzenegger, “Going for Broke: Reforming California’s Public Employee Pension Systems,” reported that the state had $500 billion in unfunded pension debt, approximately ten times more than what the state’s pension funds were reporting.

June 16, 2010 The Schwarzenegger administration reached contract agreements with four state employee unions, rolling back pension benefits to pre-1999 levels and moving pension contributions for employees in those four unions to a minimum of 10 percent—among the highest employee contribution levels in the nation. The administration soon reached similar agreements with two more state employee unions.

October 8, 2010 As part of the 2010 budget agreement, the Governor signed into law historic across-the-board pension reform following a year-long outreach campaign, and following pledges to not sign a budget without it. The budget agreement made significant changes to pensions for all new state employees, finally slowing the massive $500 billion debt the state was piling up due to unfunded pension obligations. It also required the state’s principal pension fund to accurately report the size of unfunded pension liabilities and provide more accurate assessments of pension costs.