CalPERS Issues Public Employee Benefits Education to Elected Officials

April 25, 2011 ( - The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has produced an “elected official toolkit,” a primer on the funding of public employee pension and retiree health benefits.

The toolkit is being distributed to State, local, and federal officials to help them understand how public employee retirement benefits work and to assist them in developing well-informed public policies on the issue. CalPERS is also providing copies to key members of Congress and congressional staff who work on employee benefit issues.  

The toolkit will also be used as a resource at CalPERS-sponsored workshops and training sessions for public employer and public employee organizations.  

A press release said the toolkit features sections on:  

  • Retirement Plans – Includes a comparison of defined benefit pension plans and 401(k)-style defined contribution retirement plans, how defined benefit pension plans provide employers with human resources management tools, and a description of the CalPERS defined benefit pension plan. 
  • Funding Retirement Benefits – Focuses on actuarial funding basics of defined benefit plans along with sample valuations, and explanation of pension discount rates and liabilities. 
  • Funding Retiree Health Benefits – Provides information about the CalPERS California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust, which helps California public agencies prefund retiree health benefits and other post-employment benefits. 
  • Contracting for Benefits – Identifies issues to consider when contracting for the CalPERS pension plan, questions policymakers may want to ask, how to contract and amend a CalPERS pension contract, how to contract for other CalPERS benefits, and employer responsibilities. 


“The topic of pensions and employee benefits is complex, which can result in misunderstandings,” said CalPERS Chief Executive Officer Anne Stausboll, in the announcement. “We hope our toolkit will give public officials a better understanding of how pensions work so that they can make informed decisions about these important issues. It is important that pension decisions are made on the merits and not on misconceptions.”