California Supreme Court Slaps Down Pension Reform


California’s unfunded pension liabilities are beginning to strangle the Golden State’s taxpayers. 

Some of those taxpayers, in Orange County, got yet more bad news in this regard on Wednesday: they can expect to keep digging to pay pension costs.

From The Orange County Register:

Orange County taxpayers were dealt a blow Wednesday by the California Supreme Court, which refused to hear the county Board of Supervisors’ challenge to the legality of retroactive pension increases that had been given to sheriff’s deputies by a prior board in 2001. It’s an unfortunate decision for the county, illustrating the dire need for sweeping public-employee pension reform.

Lawyers for the county had argued that the 2001 decision by the supervisors to retroactively increase benefits – allowing deputies to retire as soon as age 50 with 90 per cent of their salary after 30 years of service – was an illegal gift of public funds. The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles in January upheld a trial judge’s ruling against the county. On Wednesday the state’s highest court declined to hear the board’s appeal.

It is an unfortunate set of circumstances for the taxpayers of Orange County, who already face a $3.7 billion shortfall in paying for county worker pensions. Adding insult to injury, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs looks to pursue reimbursement of their court costs from fighting the county’s suit.

You can read the whole editorial here. “Sweeping public employee pension reform” now bounces back into the political arena.  Its prospects there fall somewhere between totally grim and utterly impossible.