30 representatives of the Californians for Retirement Security’s Pension Truth Squad shared personal stories in Modesto this week to set the record straight about proposals to gut public pensions in California and across the nation.
“We are not the wealthy people making headlines. We are taxpayers, parents, grandparents and members of this community working to retire with dignity,” said Charlie Young, a retired Modesto public school teacher “We spent our careers serving the public and now we spend our pension checks, modest as they are, in our local neighborhoods.”
Modesto is one of several California communities where public servants are being targeted. These ballot box measures to steal the power to negotiate their retirement benefits amount to a misguided government power grab and a broken promise to public servants.
California retired teachers, who do not collect Social Security, earn an average $3,300-a-month after an average 27 years in the classroom.
Public employee pensions amount to just 3% of California’s budget and public employees have agreed to pay more into their pensions and other changes that have saved the state $600 million over two years. Overhauling the public pension system will not help the state’s current budget shortfall and, according to analyses, likely would strap taxpayers with the bills for costly legal challenges and added demand on government social services.
“A few vocal factions are spreading falsehoods and sensationalizing extreme cases to scapegoat us,” said Modesto Firefighter Tim Tietjen. “The reality is that most of us earn modest wages and pensions, contribute to our retirements throughout our careers and have forgone pay raises and willingly made other concessions over the years in order to protect our pensions.”
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The next Pension Truth Squad will be on Tuesday, September 27, in San Jose at 11:30 am in front of City Hall.