Public Pension Crisis in California

SoCal ASPA forum series

Public attention has increasingly focused on mounting public employee retiree costs in California as a significant driver of state and local government expenditures. A panel of public administrators and researchers will discuss the reforms proposed to address the pension crisis, including the state’s bipartisan Little Hoover Commission’s much-debated report. Among the issues the panelists will consider:

  • Can California’s pension crisis be resolved through asset gains, or are reductions in current or future benefits required?
  • Should the Legislature authorize the transition to a hybrid pension system with reduced defined benefits and a new 401(k) style system?
  • Should voter approval of pension plan changes be required?
  • Does the pension crisis threaten to fundamentally alter the relationships between government, employees and taxpayers?
  • With defined contributions largely replacing defined benefits in the private sector, how can maintaining defined benefit public pensions be justified in the eyes of the public?
  • What will be the major political and legal obstacles for resolving the crisis?

Moderator:
Dan Mazmanian, Director, Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise, USC School of Policy, Planning and Development

Panelists:
Stuart Drown, Executive Director, Little Hoover Commission
Ed Derman, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS
Julie Butcher, Regional Director-Los Angeles/Orange County Cities, Service Employees International Union 721
Bruce Channing, City Manager, City of Laguna Hills &President-Elect of the City Managers Committee of the League of California Cities
Juliet Musso, Associate Professor & Director of, Graduate Programs in Public Policy and Management, USC School of Policy, Planning and Development