Teachers’ Pension Fund Lying Low, Set to Explode

Certain Fullerton school board members have taken issue with our characterization of the CalSTRS teachers’ pension system as being underfunded and unsustainable.  Our resident pension expert suggests that that the board may be reading a few too many rose-colored newsletters emanating from the retirement system itself. Perhaps some illumination is necessary.

This is as clear as it gets.

Before the market crash, CalSTRS was facing a $22.5 billion dollar shortfall. Since then, the market crash has killed about 30% of its assets. At this point, nobody knows how short the fund will be until it is recalculated in the spring. But the results are guaranteed to be frightening.

It’s true that CalPERS is getting all of the attention lately, but that’s only because CalSTRS doesn’t have the same power to levy rate hikes without legislative approval. Rest assured, the teachers’ union has already begun its lobbying effort to boost taxpayer contributions for teachers who retired long ago.

Some estimate that the fund will need to increase contributions by 75% next year. Pension apologists love to claim that “teachers pay for their own retirement”. The truth: payments to the teachers’ pension fund are primarily made by taxpayers, with only about 40% coming from teachers.

Well, maybe sometimes it's too late to be smart.

Further efforts by CalSTRS to distance itself from the problems at CalPERS were hindered again this week as Moodys cut debt ratings for both agencies.

After the bomb goes off next year, the smoke will clear and taxpayers will be reaching into their wallets to clean up another mess. Who is to blame? State legislatures past and present, ignorant school boards across the state, the all-powerful teachers unions and their deceptive actuarials.

For regular updates on the pension crisis and its affect around the nation, visit Fullerton’s very own PensionTsunami.com. School board members should subscribe to email updates, lest they remain uninformed as the tidal wave approaches.