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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Mark Bucher

2013 CalPERS Payouts Online at Transparent California

CalPERS financial struggles are draining state taxpayers. The ever-increasing contribution rates it demands from state and local governments have already bankrupted several cities. Even for more financially stable agencies, increased CalPERS contributions have crowded out other spending priorities or tax relief.

While discussions about unfunded liabilities and projected rates of return are necessary and important, the average member of the public is too busy to dive into the details.

That’s why the recent release ofCalPERS’ 2013 base payouts, including retiree names, onTransparentCalifornia.comis so important.

For the first time, average Californians can quickly and easily seehow much CalPERS paid out to retirees in 2013. The names and payouts are availablehere.

Even a casual glance at the data, shows the root cause of CalPERS’ financial struggles: It’s paying tens of thousands… Read More

Edward Ring

Watsonville, California – Another Tax That’s Really Just For Pensions

The city of Watsonville lies nestled among some of the most verdant farmland on earth. Just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the moderate, moist air nurtures endless fields ofstrawberries, apples, fresh flowers, cauliflower, broccoli and artichoke. Fragrant forests of redwood carpet the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north; some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the world spawn in the Pajaro estuary to the immediate south. Watsonville is surrounded by agricultural abundance and scenic beauty. But like many other agricultural towns in California, Watsonville’s economy has struggled. The average household income in Watsonville is $47,442 per year, well below the California average of $58,328, and the city’s17.8% unemployment rateis nearly twice the state’s average.

None of this stopped Watsonville’s civic leaders from putting onto the June 2014 ballot aPublic Safety Sales Tax, Measure G, which in an election with 30% turnout, squeaked through with just over the… Read More

Mark Bucher

Transparent California Releases 2013 Payroll and Pension Data

This week theCalifornia Policy Center(CPC) released 2013 payroll and pension data (the most recent data available) onTransparentCalifornia.com, the largest ever online database of California state and local government employee pensions, salaries, and benefits. The data shows that public compensation in California is growing more out of control, threatening the solvency of the state and local governments.

This new 2013 data includes pension data from the big state pension systems and payroll data from state agencies, counties, the CalState system, and community colleges. It shows egregious examples of misplaced taxpayer funds. Most notably, one assistant fire chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department earned a pension payout of $998,456. On the payroll side, the Alameda County Administrator made $654,000 in total compensation in 2013, while her assistant made $338,000.

For anyone who wants to view – and download – information from the most comprehensive collection of pay, benefit, and pension data ever compiled for California’s state and local… Read More