SB 1031: Public employees’ retirement: cost-of-living adjustments: prohibitions.

Attacks on Public Employees' Pensions & Benefits

AFSCME is proud to represent over 180,000 state, county and municipal employees and retirees that share a common commitment to public service and who have invested in a sound public retirement system for their financial security. Unfortunately, legislation introduced this year by some legislators sought to needlessly undermine public employees’ hard-earned pensions and benefits. Our members who spend their lives serving the public across the state have already made great sacrifices at the bargaining table for the health and sustainability of California's public pension system.

SB1031, introduced by Senator John Moorlach (R- Costa Mesa), would have restricted a public retirement system from giving cost-of-living increases to any new member on or after January 1, 2019, or to any survivor or beneficiary of that member if the unfunded actuarial liability of the system was greater than 20%. There are a variety of factors that can result in a lower funded ratio - such as people living longer, salary increases in a recovering economy, and lower earnings in the stock market such as was the case during the Great Recession. However, freezing cost-of-living adjustments for new members is a misguided and punitive effort that punishes the most vulnerable. Cost-of-living adjustments help retirees, who are often on a fixed income, maintain a viable standard of living in the face of inflation.

SB 1031 was overwhelmingly rejected in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee on a 1-3 vote.  AFSCME remained strictly opposed to all legislation irresponsibly targeting public employees’ retirement security, and is committed to helping our members choose leadership that will make important decisions on their behalf about their benefits and ultimately their future.