ACSS strives to provide members with news that matters to excluded state employees. We are on your side and fight to protect your pension and retirement benefits. The “California Rule”, created in 1955, prohibits any changes in pension benefits to state workers once they are granted. However, on August 17, 2016, a state appellate court in San Francisco concluded that the California Rule can be modified. In the case of Marin Association of Public Employees vs Marin County Employees Retirement Association, the issue of “pension spiking” (the practice of using tactical means to inflate income and benefits) opened the door to debate the validity of the long-standing California Rule.
In this case, three appellate justices determined that state employee pensions are “not an immutable entitlement.” And added that “the Legislature may, prior to the employee’s retirement, alter the formula, thereby reducing the anticipated pension…so long as the…modifications do not deprive the employee of reasonable pension.”
Pension reformers may see this ruling as a reason to continue to propose new pension reform measures.
ACSS fights to protect your pension. In fighting this battle, we joined the Californians for Retirement Security Coalition (CRS) which aims to protect pensions and retirement benefits of public employees. Steven Maviglio, spokesperson for CRS, reassures ACSS that the California Rule is not going anywhere anytime soon. Maviglio reiterates that “The California Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the “California Rule”, protecting pensions and maintaining that they are a vested right”. He goes on to mention that the case of Marin County is based on an unreasonable, narrow set of facts and may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Ultimately, Maviglio says “There is no reasonable conclusion that this decision opens the door to overturning the California Rule. Any significant changes would require legislative action, which will not occur this year.”
ACSS will continue to closely monitor this issue and provide you with updates.