Letter to the Editor by James Hackett
Published in Fresno Bee, March 13
The Bee’s front-page story on pensions relied on simplified numbers and a quote from a partisan masquerading as a neutral academic.
Joe Nation is not, as the story stated, just a professor. He’s a former Assembly member.
As a professor, he oversaw a study for the Schwarzenegger administration, in which pension liabilities were calculated with an unrealistically low rate of return for the sole purpose of ginning up numbers that could be used to fan outrage and generate headlines.
And the history of how we got here ignored the underfunding and raids on the pension system that were deliberate decisions by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.
A true picture of Fresno County’s system would focus on its funded status. Fresno’s system took a hit from the economic meltdown that affected the value of every pension portfolio and individual retirement plan across America. But its status is now around 72% and rising.
Because pension funds are long-term vehicles with continuous inflows of money, a funded status of 80% is enough to be considered healthy. That’s the truth the Bee should report.