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As Lawrence McQuillan has observed, unfunded pension liabilities have soared to $4.7 trillion nationwide, and California accounts for $550 billion to $750 billion of the total. CalPERS, the Golden State’s biggest public pension fund, has authorized 99 types of special payments that count in pension calculations, but the only one that drew any objection from Gov. Jerry Brown was the temporary upgrade pay. With the prospect of a pension reform measure on the 2016 ballot, education bureaucrats are coming up with new ways to make the pension crisis worse.
As Loretta Kalb observes in the Sacramento Bee, “trustees for some of Sacramento’s largest school districts converted hefty superintendent allowances for vehicles and computers into base pay. The moves ensure that superintendents can still count the allowance amounts toward their pensions.” The San Juan district tacked on $16,000 in allowances to the salary of superintendent Kent Kern, bringing his compensation to $270,185. In similar style, the Twin Rivers district “converted a $10,000 car allowance into pay for Superintendent Steven Martinez, bringing his pay to $260,000.” The pensions for Kern and Martinez will of course be calculated from the higher figure. And as we noted, Martinez also bagged a $20,000 pay increase and doubled his retirement payment. The pay and benefit hikes were not connected to any increase in student achievement. The Twin Rivers district ranks a lowly 314th in the state, with a dismal 47 percent proficiency in math and 44 percent in reading. Other education bureaucrats, including “associate” and “assistant” superintendents, also got big raises not connected to student achievement.
The lessons for taxpayers remain clear. The bloated government monopoly education system may fail students and parents, but it serves well as a piggy bank for bureaucrats. Without effective oversight or accountability, a reactionary ruling class deploys its power to quash reform.