Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Retired Judges to Get Pension Checks on Time Regardless Of State Budget Impasse, Controller’s Office Says
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
Pension checks for retired judges and their beneficiaries will be paid on schedule and will not be held up by the budget impasse, contrary to warnings issued by retirement fund officials, the state Controller’s Office reported yesterday.
Chief Counsel Rick Chivaro said the office had discussed the concerns expressed by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System chief, but he said CalPERS now agrees that the checks can be paid.
In a separate development, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported that it had secured a commitment to pay retired judges who serve in the assigned judges program.
William Vickrey, administrative director of the California courts, asked Controller Kathleen Connell on Friday to look into the matter in the wake of a letter sent by CalPERS to retired judges telling them their pay would be held up.
“We greatly appreciate the swift response from State Controller Connell,” Vickrey said in a prepared statement yesterday. “Chief Justice Ronald George and I appreciate the dedicated service that state judges provide both when they were on active service and on assignment. With the Controller’s action, retired judges and their surviving spouses will be treated fairly in receiving pension checks and assigned judges’ pay.”
The MetNews reported yesterday that the legislative deadlock in Sacramento that has delayed a budget bill for a month beyond the statutory deadline could place the retired jurists’ pay in jeopardy.
James E. Burton on Thursday sent a letter to participants in the Judges’ Retirement System—one of two pension systems for ex-jurists—advising them their pay would come late because of the budget deadlock.
But sources in Connell’s office said the controller’s legal staff was studying its options.
Vickrey told Connell that failure to pay would breach a vested contract right.
Retired California judges who began their bench careers before 1994 belong to the Judges’ Retirement System, sometimes referred to as JRS I. There are more than 1,400 retired judges, beneficiaries and survivors in that system.
A second retirement program, called JRS II, serves retirees who began their bench careers after 1994.
Both programs are administered by CalPERS.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company