Back in September, we noted that, in a surprisingly logical decision particularly for a state like California which is typically devoid of all reason, a court upheld the rights of Marin County (and it's taxpayers) to reduce final year salary levels utilized to calculate pension payments. The ruling was meant to protect taxpayers against "salary spiking," a practice whereby union employees artificially drive up their final year salary, by taking cash vacation payouts or 1x bonus payments for example, in an effort to game the annual pension payment they'll then receive in perpetuity.
Now, according to Pension & Investments, a second California court in San Francisco has made a similar ruling, finding that while a public employee does have a "vested right" to a pension it is only to a "reasonable pension."
A second California appeals court panel has said that vested pension rights can be reduced or eliminated in California as long as employees still receive a pension that is “substantial” and “reasonable,” court filings show.
The Dec. 30 decision by a three-member panel in San Francisco affirmed a state pension reform law that went into effect in 2013 and eliminated the right of participants of the $302.4 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, to enhance their pension by buying retirement credits. A lower court in Alameda County in 2015 had ruled that the pension enhancement benefits could be eliminated.
The enhanced benefit, known as an airtime service credit, allowed CalPERS participants to increase their retirement benefit by up to five years by making additional contributions from their salary.