The Marin Post

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The California Rule is the California exception

A new column by Joe Mathews is certainly worth sharing. I noticed that it has been published in other newspapers, so I will send it to the Marin Independent Journal to see if they will run it. It answers many questions people have about the current situation and how we got here. I'll also send it to Rollie Katz, executive director of MAPE, as a follow up to his recent Marin Voice.


Many people are still confused by the term "California Rule". This column clearly explains when, where and how it came to be. It was a court ruling that became a law, and has subsequently caused California - and other states that have adopted its use - to amass trillions in unfunded pension debt. It threatens the future of cities, counties, schools and all government agencies. It "necessitates" rate hikes such as the one now being proposed - again - by the Marin Municipal Water District, although they will undoubtedly deny that.

With five more cases to be heard by the State Supreme Court, we can only hope that the justices will have the courage to follow the Appeals Court opinion in MAPE versus MCERA:

"...while a public employee does have a “vested right” to a pension, that right is only to a “reasonable” pension—not an immutable entitlement to the most optimal formula of calculating the pension. And the Legislature may, prior to the employee’s retirement, alter the formula, thereby reducing the anticipated pension. So long as the Legislature’s modifications do not deprive the employee of a “reasonable” pension, there is no constitutional violation."