California lawmaker: Cap public pensions at $100,000


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While state lawmakers slowly move through hearings on complicated proposals to reduce public pension costs, Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) says he has a simple solution: Cap public retirements in California at $100,000 a year.

Wagner has introduced legislation to put a cap on pensions after the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility said the number of public employees receiving in excess of $100,000 is skyrocketing.


There are currently 12,199 people receiving pensions over $100,000 from the California Public Employees Retirement System, a jump from the 1,600 who reportedly were getting six-figure pensions in 2005, said Marcia Fritz, president of the foundation. One retired administrator from the city of Vernon is getting $530,000.

‘This is a big cost-saver,’ Wagner said of his AB 1633. ‘I think $100,000 is a very nice amount of money for somebody who is retired.’

His bill would set an $80,000 cap on public pensions for those whose service is included in the federal Social Security system. The measure may be sent to a legislative conference committee that has been considering various pension changes, including a 12-point plan submitted by Gov. Jerry Brown in October.

The governor’s plan includes a formula-based cap on benefits to high-wage earners who are hired after the plan is adopted, according to spokesman Evan Westrup. Depending on whether a public employee is eligible for Social Security benefits or not, the governor’s proposal would put caps on annual retirement of between $110,000 and $132,000, Westrup said.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photograph: Assemblyman Donald Wagner. Credit: Don Kelson