Rich pensioners? Most of them aren't.
Rich pensioners? Most of them aren't.

Most California Public Worker Retirees Receive Modest Pension

The talk of bloated public employee pensions is everywhere, both here and nationally, not least because of the salary scandal in the city of Bell, where the recently retired city manager Robert Rizzo is set to take home millions of dollars during his...golden years.

But as Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star points out, most public agency retirees are getting a very modest pension.

Among the 492,000 retired government workers receiving checks from the state's Public Employees' Retirement System, the average monthly benefit is $2,188, and 78 percent receive $3,000 a month or less.

Read that again. Most California public workers put in their time, trading a modest salary for job security and a modest pension, and that's what they got.

We're reminded of a conversation we had with a neighbor of Rizzo's in Orange County, a retired city street maintenance supervisor who is living in the house of his fiance. He spoke of his extreme irritation at Rizzo, who, he said, was tarnishing public sector workers and retirees by making it seem like they're all swimming in a gravy boat, when in fact most worked hard for a modest wage for a long time and now get a modest pension.

As Herdt puts it: While there are things that public agencies and their unions can and should do to curb too-lavish pensions for top managers and high-wage workers, it makes no sense for the public to begrudge the $2,200-a-month pensions of retired school bus drivers, DMV clerks and city maintenance workers.

H/t: LA Observed.

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