What do experts say about California pension reform?

Thursday, February 20, 2014
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The Hoover Institution is pleased to announce the “California Public Pension Solutions” Post-Conference Report.

In October 2013, the Hoover Institution’s “California Public Pension Solutions” conference, cohosted by Hoover senior fellow Josh Rauh and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s David Crane and Joe Nation, engaged pension experts from academia, corporate management, and the civil service in a discussion on in-depth solutions to California’s public pension challenges. After a full day of discussing solutions and a public address by San Jose mayor Chuck Reed, those experts were asked to complete a post-conference survey regarding their opinion on pension reform, a model developed by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to inform the public on the variation of expert opinions.

The Post-Conference Report presents the results of the survey, providing a graphic for each statement showcasing the raw and confidence-weighted responses. Accompanying each graphic is a short summary providing details on the topic addressed in each statement. Some key findings include wide consensus that for reform to occur, the “California Rule” (the statutes that outlaw detrimentally changing pension benefits for current employees) needs amending; wide disagreement that small reforms—like eliminating "spiking" and "double-dipping"—would solve pension challenges; and strong agreement that San Jose’s recent pension reform is the best example for other California cities and localities to follow.

  • For more detailed analyses of the poll results, see the Defining Ideas article "Reform or Bust," by Hoover research fellow Carson Bruno.
  • Visit Hoover’s blog Eureka for an overview of the report’s findings and articles related to California.
  • To explore the report directly, click here.