Jen Sidorova: Why millennials should care about government pensions

25 Nov

Here’s something hopeful – Bob sent this piece from Market Watch, written by a young person.

Jen Sidorova explains the pension crisis and why young people should be concerned. 

“Governments with underfunded pensions need to come up with the money somehow, and the most obvious way is to raise taxes. What this means for millennials, who are already the largest generational group in the workforce, is that more of their tax dollars could be diverted to paying down public pension debt instead of paying for public services. All the funds that should have otherwise gone toward schools, roads and state parks, could be redirected to cover underfunded pensions for employees who stopped working 10 or 20 years ago. So, pension debt will affect all millennials, even those outside public sector jobs — because everyone’s a taxpayer.”

That last line, “everyone’s a taxpayer,” seems to escape certain groups – like renters, and young voters who still live at home or are supported by their parents. Young people have to stop saying “No worries” and start worrying about this mess before it’s just a fact of their lives. 

Sidorova explains the two-prong fork – not only will young people live with crapped out infrastructure and higher taxes, if they go into the public sector – like my son and many of my friends’ kids – they will not enjoy the same level of pay and benefits generously lavished on their predecessors. In fact, their contributions go directly into the pockets of retirees they never even knew.

“Currently, state and local pension contributions make up about 26% of the total payroll costs. According to my analysis of the PPD, in states like Illinois and Kentucky, the government’s contributions exceed 50 percent of the total payroll costs of their largest pension plans — a consequence of enormous unfunded liabilities. All the money that could’ve gone toward increasing salaries and improving work conditions now goes toward paying pension debt. That means young workers are missing out on benefits and pay raises in the short term. For state employees, given the constitutional protection of pensions, salary freezes are another likely consequence of growing pension debt.”

Here she talks about solutions,

“As these systems try to find solutions, it’s crucial they focus on reforms that ensure paying down debt as fast as possible, adopt more conservative actuarial assumptions about investment returns, and introduce financially sustainable retirement plan offerings, as those could go a long way to ensure retirement security of the millennial labor force.

what she doesn’t talk about is who should pay down the debt. I believe the workers should assume much higher shares, or accept the loss of their pensions and go with 401ks. But that would take strong, publicly supported politicians, and I don’t know where we will find those people. What I do know is, neither our city councilors not the CARD board have the guts to do this. In fact, Tom Lando, who has been with CARD for a few terms now, is the city of Chico’s biggest current pensioneer.

LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48/mo $134,837.76/yr

That’s a nine year old post, they get cost of living increase every year. Here’s an up-to-date table from Transparent California.

Wow, cost of living increases more than $1,000/year, for some people, because Lando’s pension has gone up by about $16,000 in 13 years, to $150,671.00  And he serves in various interim positions, which come with more salary – for example, he was the interim director of Feather River Recreation District, and then the interim city manager of Oroville for a couple more years.

He took a smaller salary – “not to exceed $30,000” – so what? How many of us would like to pocket another $30,000, in addition to the $150,000/year we already get? For nothing. 

This is so  ridiculous – people have to wake up.

It’s up to us to vote for better people. In the mean time, we need to get the word out to young people about how they can change their own futures for the better.

5 Responses to “Jen Sidorova: Why millennials should care about government pensions”

  1. Scott Rushing November 25, 2019 at 11:40 am #

    Dear Juanita:

    Another good article. Thank God for watchdogs like you.

    My focus is on law enforcement abuses in Chico and COB. FYI, based on a review of the financial reports available on line from the City of Chico website, the taxpayers have paid the law firm of Alvarez, Glassman, and Colvin, City of Industry, CA, from January 1, 2019, through October 31, 2019, the sum of *$574,741*. It appears there is a monthly retainer of $26,250 but charges have exceeded the contract for services. I doubt* mis-manager* Orme has shared this with the taxpayer.

    There was also a payment of $445,138 on 8.2.2019, from the City of Chico, (taxpayer money), to the California Joint Powers Authority (JPA), Risk Management Authority, for liability insurance. I am going to research the premium for prior years. My guess is the premium payments have greatly increased due to the CPD killings of Breanne Sharpe, Desmond Phillips, and Tyler Scott Rushing, plus the strangulation trial of former CPD sergeant Scott Ruppel. Ruppel now lives out of state and enjoys a pension of over $100,000 a year. Ruppel was, for many years, one of the highest-paid government employees in Butte County per *Transparent California*.

    I will update you when I complete my research.


    Scott Rushing Ventura, CA

    On Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 9:04 AM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: “Here’s something hopeful – Bob sent this piece > from Market Watch, written by a young person. > > Jen Sidorova explains the pen” >

    • Juanita Sumner November 25, 2019 at 12:25 pm #

      I am thankful for folks like you Scott, this is the kind of truth that makes people think twice before handing more taxes to a screwed up government.
      Thanks for doing the homework, and thanks for sending it here – I hope you have a peaceful and warm holiday weekend – Juanita

    • bob November 26, 2019 at 9:28 am #

      Mr. Rushing,

      You can view the city council meetings online. They have them archived so you can view them any time.

      You might want to go to the 4/16/19 meeting and view Constantin’s presentation. He indicated that Chico spends significantly more on “public safety” then other cities its size.

      The bottom line is that Chico spends too much on cops and fire and can’t afford more, even if they get that sales tax increase and use it to float a huge bond.

  2. bob November 26, 2019 at 9:32 am #

    An article everyone should read

    CalPERS police-fire costs hit ‘unsustainable’ level

    And Chico spends more on cops and fire than most cities its size.

    The people of Chico ought to read this before they vote for that sales tax increase.

    • Juanita Sumner November 27, 2019 at 6:14 am #

      Thanks Bob, this has been true of Chico for a long time. It’s no coincidence that Chico Police Officers Association is usually the biggest single donor in our local elections. I’d like to see a city ordinance limiting PAC contributions.

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