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State of California June 3, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Preserving Retirement Security

By Betty T. Yee

Candidate for Controller

This information is provided by the candidate
California needs to work diligently to ensure public employee and teacher retirees as well as private sector workers can realize retirement security at the end of their careers.
Retirement security is becoming a major worry for Americans and Californians as the national and state economies slowly climb from the stock market meltdown and housing collapse defining the Great Recession that began in the latter half of 2007. Significant unfunded liabilities in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) not only pose major strains on our state and local government budgets, but also on the economic security of retirees.

The CalPERS board, the CalSTRS board, the Legislature, the state, and local governments and schools districts as well as CalPERS and CalSTRS members all must be active participants of the array of solutions necessary to address preserving retirement security.

While some will quickly dismiss define benefit plans as obsolete, eliminating define benefit plans would significantly exacerbate the crisis of income inequality, potentially driving more of our retirees into poverty. Any changes to retirement benefits as well as contribution levels must be determined with all parties at the negotiating table.

There are some measures the CalPERS and CalSTRS boards, on which the Controller serves, as well as the Legislature, can undertake to better ensure retirement security. First, more active management of asset allocation can help with better identifying and addressing risks before huge investment losses occur. Second, we all must be vigilant in addressing the escalating costs of retiree health care and other cost pressures for retirees, such as housing. And third, in addition to lowering retiree costs, there must be focus on how to improve the earnings and labor market prospects for older workers preceding retirement.

While these challenges to preserving retirement security appear daunting, they require immediate attention and all parties convening to address them successfully.

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