Background Material on California’s Pension Debate
The battle to protect your retirement security has begun in Sacramento.

Under the guise of “reform,” politicians at the Capitol — led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — have introduced proposals to privatize the pension system that helps secure the retirement of California’s first responders and their families.

Under the governor’s two-tiered retirement plan, your newly hired brothers and sisters would be forced into a private, 401k-style system with a capped contribution rate. The plan guarantees boatloads for Wall Street, but provides no guarantees for you and your family.

California’s current pension system — CalPERS for instance — is known as a defined benefit (DB) system. Under this, you put in your hard work saving lives, and you’re guaranteed a pension ... period. But under the governor’s privatized plan — a “defined contribution” system, you and your employer make separate contributions (with rates capped at 4%), and then you’ve got to fend for yourselves.

In addition to all the skills you’ve developed as first responders, apparently now you have to learn how to be stock speculators, too.

CPF believes the current defined benefit plan is essential to recruiting and retaining the highest caliber of individual for our profession. It could chase our best and most experienced firefighters into the private sector. That means a lower standard of service to the taxpayers. Worse, those who stay won’t retire when the time is right for them — they’ll retire when the time is right in the stock market.


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