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September 27, 2011

CONTACT
: Lani Lutar
                  619-234-6423 or lani@sdcta.org


SDCTA Launches Fact-based Pension Education Program

 

Program will educate candidates for public office and current officials on public employee pensions


(San Diego) – The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) will offer local and state political candidates the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of public employee pension programs, labor negotiations and retirement plan design options through a brand new “Pension Certification Program” to be offered beginning on Saturday, October 22.

The purpose of the new SDCTA program is to thoroughly educate candidates for public office, current elected officials and public sector managers on the subject of public employee pensions. The full-day program has been structured to be fact-based and educational, rather than advocacy-based.

“Making key decisions about the management of public employee pension programs are among the most complex decisions we ask our elected officials to make,” said Lani Lutar, SDCTA President and CEO. “While some candidates may have relevant experience and education which helps inform their decisions, many others do not.

“We have heard from numerous individuals over the past few years that they might have voted differently on pension issues if they had thoroughly understood the complexities involved. This is why SDCTA is stepping forward to offer this first of its kind program,” explained Lutar.

The day-long program features four expert instructors:
  • April Boling, Certified Public Accountant, Boling & Boling
  • Richard Hiller, Vice President – Government Market, TIAA-CREF
  • Bill Sheffler, Actuary, Sheffler Consulting Actuaries, Inc.
  • M. Carol Stevens, Attorney, Burke, Williams & Sorenson, LLP

Among the issues and questions the program will cover:
  • The basics of defined benefit, defined contribution and hybrid pension plans. How do they work? What can go wrong?
  • What goes into normal cost and the unfunded accrued liability?
  • What is an actuarial valuation? What should you look for in a valuation? What questions should be asked when management proposes a benefit change?
  • The impact of market gains and losses on pension systems. What is asset smoothing and how are unfunded liabilities amortized?
  • What is “pension spiking” and how does it occur?
  • What are the different ways employees can achieve 70-80% income replacement ratio in their retirement?
  • What are the impacts of employee turnover, changes to actuarial assumptions, and salary increases on pension payments?
  • How does the bargaining process work? Which benefits are vested? Which benefits can be changed?
  • How much flexibility does each jurisdiction have in regard to pension benefit formulas and other supplemental benefits?
  • What should be done in preparation for negotiating a change in pension or retiree medical benefits with employee unions?
  • Can a governing body unilaterally impose changes after completing the negotiations process?

In addition to the October 22nd program date, SDCTA plans to offer the program once more before the June 2012 Primary Election and at least once before the November 2012 General Election to ensure the greatest participation by regional San Diego candidates. The program will be offered at a cost of $85 for SDCTA members and $115 for prospective members. Additional information is available at www.sdcta.org or by calling 619-234-6423.

Click here to register for the event.
Click here for the Pension Certification Fact Sheet and Registration Form.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary new taxes and fees.  Founded in 1945, SDCTA has spent the past 66 years saving the region’s taxpayers millions of dollars, as well as generating information to help educate the public.

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