Grim expectations

Apr 11, 2012

California's pension fund for teachers, STRS, faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall over the long term and its asset level is falling below the amount that some experts believe is necessary to meet its obligations. 


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "The nation's second biggest public pension fund, which provides retirement benefits for almost half a million California teachers, faces a projected $64.5-billion shortfall over the next three decades."


"On Tuesday, Ed Derman, deputy chief executive of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, told reporters Tuesday that the $152-billion pension has only 69% of the funds it needs to meet future obligations."


"Pension experts say that asset value equal to 80% of future obligations is the minimum conservative funding level for a program such as CalSTRS."


Moving right along, government revenue projections always are dicey, but the latest numbers miscue in L.A. County has led to demands for a top-to-bottom audit. The Daily News' Christina Villacorte tells the tale.


"Noguez had forecast in December that the assessed value of all property throughout the county would increase by $18.7 billion."

"Last week, however, he lowered that estimate to $5.1 billion, sending the county, its various cities, school districts, community colleges, and certain fire, library and flood control districts scrambling to adjust to lower-than-expected revenue from property taxes."


"It's perplexing, it's confounding, and it's unprecedented," Yaroslavsky said."


Speaking of revenue, again, the state's flow came up lower than expectations last month and the outlook for the future is uncertain, Controller John Chiang says.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "The state missed its target most in corporate income taxes, which were $125.8 million (8.2 percent) off the mark. Income taxes and sales taxes were each less than 2 percent behind Gov. Jerry Brown's revenue forecast. For the fiscal year that ends in June, the state is now trailing Brown's expectations by nearly $1.1 billion, or 1.9 percent.


 It was the biggest surprise since Obi-Wan and Luke hung out in that bar in Tatooine and hired Han Solo: Film maker George Lucas pulled the plug on locating a new production facility in Marin County after the locals complained. Lucasfilms said it had a schedule to keep and could do it better somewhere else.


From the Press-Democrat's Steve Hart: "The company didn’t say where it would locate the studio complex."


"Marin business and local government leaders called Lucas’ move a blow to the county’s economy, but neighbors expressed relief."


“It sends a loud and disturbing message to any company coming to Marin,” said Cynthia Murray, a former Marin County supervisor who now heads North Bay Leadership Council, which represents employers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. "The Lucas project “would be welcome any other place in the world,” she said. The council supported Lucasfilm’s plan."


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has approved water rate increases over the next couple of years, the latest in a series of events roiling the  water communities of Southern California. San Diego, especially, is at odds with the MWD, the principal water wholesaler for Southern California.


From Bradley J. Fikes in the North County Times: "Metropolitan Water District's board of directors has approved a two-year budget with water rate increases averaging 5 percent in January 2013 and 5 percent again a year later."


"The vote by Southern California's largest water wholesaler sets the stage for a cascade of price hikes, budget cuts, or both, for agencies that directly or indirectly buy water from Metropolitan."


"Metropolitan's decision came after more than 90 minutes of sometimes emotional testimony on the effects of a higher budget on customers of retail water agencies in San Diego County."


Meanwhile, San Jose State University has a new policy that no longer guarantees qualified local students a place in the school. The idea, the school says, is to reduce enrollment. Swell.


From the Bay Citizen: "At a morning news conference on campus, university president Mohammad Qayoumi said steep state budget cuts are the reason for the school's new approach, in which local applicants not admitted to their preferred majors will be eligible for -- but no longer guaranteed -- admission as undeclared students."


"University officials explained that all students applying to SJSU are required to note their first- and second-choice majors. Those who aren't accepted to those majors are bumped to the "undeclared" category."


"The school will still have a "local area preference" policy in place, in which local applicants being considered as undeclared majors will have a lower admissions threshold than applicants from other areas, university officials said."


And from our "Yes,They're Still At It" file, comes the tale of the search for Bigfoot. No, they never found him; yes, they think he's still out there; no, he doesn't live with D.B. Cooper. They take this seriously in Kentucky, by the way.


"Kentucky Bigfoot investigators pride themselves on their scientific rigour."


"They compile detailed reports, take copious notes, and rely on high-tech recording equipment to set their traps and document their work."


"Every twisted branch or broken twig is carefully examined for clues. Every distant sound in the trees seized on as a possible sign of "activity".


Glad they're on the job....

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