This will be one of those weeks that will be hard to forget.
There were a number of groups in Sacramento that wanted me to share a few thoughts, including the Association of California Cities – Orange County, the Orange County Business Council, Senator Scott Wilk’s annual Santa Clarita business leaders conference, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – California, Gen Next, the Chief Probation Officers of California, and the Pacific Club (back in the District).
I was also honored at a reception by the National Federation of Independent Business and presented with the Guardian of Small Business Award. A few legislators were feted by the Easterseals Board of Directors at their Annual Awards Dinner, presenting Sen. Scott Wiener and me with the 2019 Senate Leadership Award for joint authoring SB 1004 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1004 and CIRM — September 10, 2018 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Joint Author Details — July 7, 2018).
If that was not enough, I also had a successful campaign fundraiser in the District after touching down at John Wayne Airport Thursday evening, with appreciation to my hosts and guests.
However, on my way to the Sacramento airport Thursday afternoon, I received the news that my 91 year old father, Kent M. Moorlach, was overcome by his recent battle with a pulmonary embolism and went to be with Jesus in Heaven. How thankful I am that I made a quick trip to Colorado two weeks ago to spend time with him, to thank him for raising me,and to say goodbye to my Dad.
Klaas Meindert Moorlach was born in the Netherlands on October 27, 1927. He would endure Nazi occupation during World War II. After the war, when life settled down, he attended Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he earned a Doctorandus (Drs.) in Economics with distinction.
He married my mother, Rieka Dina Cornelia de Boer, on August 27, 1953. They would have two children, me, Johannes M. W., and Edward H. J. before they immigrated to California in 1960. In the United States, they Americanized their names to Kent and Rita, and mine to John, and had two more children, Kent M. and Annemarie.
My Dad left his family business in the grain industry, the Moorlach Meelfabriek (Flour Mill) in Uithuizermeeden, for the insurance industry in Southern California, attaining the Chartered Life Underwriter (C.L.U.) designation. He worked as an agent for the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he was a colleague of David Cox, who would later become a California Assemblyman and Senator, and for whom the Cox Lounge is named (which is located off of the Senate Chambers). He also sold property and casualty insurance and took care of my car insurance needs until he retired.
He is survived by my mother and his four children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren (with one more due next month), and 4 great grandchildren. His memorial service will be April 13th at 10:30 a.m. at Christ Community Church in Buena Park (formerly Community Reformed Church, the church in which I was raised and where later married my wife, Trina). For those who knew my remarkable father, you are welcome to attend (please RSVP tokentmoorlach).
Back to my mention of the group from Santa Clarita. I believe they had a fun visit to the State Capitol in Sacramento, which is documented here: https://www.hometownstation.com/santa-clarita-latest-news/2019-khts-sacramento-road-trip-wraps-up-with-talks-of-taxes-budget-270700.
One of the attendees expanded on the topic that I was asked to speak on in the piece below in The Signal.
25th Anniversary Look Back
The March 24, 1994 edition of the Daily Pilot provided some drama to what should have been a nonevent with a piece titled “Supervisorial candidates upset about being left out of forum — Republican group invites only GOP hopefuls to speak at its meeting, although the race is non-partisan.” It gave two Democrat supervisorial candidates a chance to make a news story out of nothing. Not being invited did not offend my opponent. Mr. Citron refused to meet me at any venue throughout the campaign as he was not a good public speaker and also stuttered.
The internet was not so robust 25 years ago and obtaining public documents required a ten day ordeal. But, doing so ratcheted things up a bit. On March 29th, I sent Mr. Citron a California Public Records Act Request, certified mail, with copies to the Board of Supervisors and the media, asking for the following:
1. Copies of the Orange County Investment Pool’s annual financial reports from June 30, 1971 to present.
2. Portfolio listings of for several quarters, including face value, cost basis, date of purchase and date of expiration.
3. A listing of all the transactions in the Pool for the quarter ended March 31, 1994.
4. Copies of broker statements for the first three months of the year.
5. A listing of participant investment amounts at the end of each quarter.
6. The investment policies and procedures for participants.
7. A listing of the brokers of the Pool’s transactions.
These public records were not on the incumbent Treasurer’s website. However, I would post or provide this information after my appointment the following year.
Jason Gibbs | Beware of the State’s Pension Tsunami
Earlier this week, local leaders and community advocates journeyed to Sacramento to partake in discussions with policy advisors and elected officials on a wide range of state and local issues.
KHTS held their 14th annual Sacramento bus trip providing the opportunity to relay both our concerns and support with actions and legislation that significantly affects the way we live, the businesses we run, and how we raise our families here in Santa Clarita. Thank you to Sen. Scott Wilk, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, and to all the employees and staff who made this an incredible and successful experience!
While all of the topics and speakers were well presented and opined, it felt like kismet when the topic I had begun writing about for this column was discussed by Sen. John Moorlach: pension reform.
While it seems to be a requirement in today’s political theater to approach topics and principles solely from a partisan standpoint, the need to evaluate the impacts of our political posturing on those who simply want to live and thrive in this state without engaging in the ceaseless drama, is at critical mass.
It’s no secret that the California pension system is insolvent and is leaving a crushing debt that will inevitably consume our coffers without immediate and drastic action. Unfortunately, under the guise of unfettered democratic rule, the system is reaching all new levels of disaster.
With ever-increasing benefit promises, overinflating return rates from investment portfolios, and the political tentativeness to share costs of these pensions onto employees, Sacramento can no longer play the role of ostrich and ignore this issue.
State and local governments face more than $400 billion in unfunded liabilities (which is just political speak for debt) according to the State Controllers’ office report in 2016. However, these numbers are probably low! CalPERS assumed their investments would have a set return rate over time (set to be 7 percent in 2020). If you assume a market rate return of closer to 3 percent, which is more conservative and practical, the debt is over a TRILLION dollars!
It’s not just non-conservative return rates that have caused this debacle! Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation just before the dot-com bubble burst allowing early retirement and additional pension benefits. This extended to local governments and school districts as well, including providing pension holidays. Suffice it to say, the dot-com crash and then the great recession (which wiped out nearly 30 percent in CalPERS assets) did nothing to help achieve the pie-in-the-sky promises.
Additionally, the life expectancy of workers is more than what the program estimated, which, again means more cost that must be paid! Just like with Social Security, predicative models indicate there will not be enough workers to sustain the amount of retirees.
Bottom line…it is unsustainable!
Pensions are funded from three sources: returns on investment, employee contributions and government employer contributions. Therefore, when we discuss how to get more money into the fund, the answers are charge the government more (i.e. taxes), charge the employer more for the care they are promised, or hope that CalPERS can get a better return on their investment.
Historically, the state has been extremely hesitant on the first two options. Large labor unions do not advocate for making their members pay more for their benefits. Cities will not advocate taxing the populace to pay more for employee pension and health-care promises.
Therefore, the state has relied solely on the investment portfolios to meet their expectations. Thirty years ago, CalPERS projected 8.75 percent returns and CalSTRS assumed 8.5 percent, but those rates are dropping to 7 percent in 2020. Even at these lower rates, many advisors argue that these rates are entirely too optimistic.
Joe Nation, the project director for Pension Tracker, suggests a market rate of closer to 3.3 percent is much more realistic. But, if the retirement plans assume such a low rate of return, that means the employer or employee will have to make up the $700 billion in losses. Good luck getting the unions or taxpayers to agree to that!
In fact, Gov. Brown tried in 2012 to close the gap by forming a hybrid system with pensions and traditional 401(K) plans, but Democrats blocked this plan.
No matter how you look at it, debt is non-partisan. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, we taxpayers are responsible for these obligations. What’s more of a travesty is we are passing this burden on to generations that had no say in its creation! While I was the only City Council candidate to discuss the real dangers of pension liabilities, I hope our elected officials will see the importance of actually doing something, and not just utter phrases like “we need more resources.”
Because frankly, relying on portfolios to outperform reality, for retirees to not live as long, and for a non-stop economic boom to pay these promises, is not just unrealistic, it is immoral!
Jason Gibbs is a Santa Clarita resident. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among several local Republicans.
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