The Madeleine Brand Show for October 14, 2010

Steve Proffitt and Pension Shortfalls

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The California Public Employees' Retirement System building in Sacramento, California July 21, 2009. CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, reported a loss of 23.4%, its largest annual loss.

One issue in the California governor's race - and in other races across the country - is what to do about the ballooning costs of paying pensions for government workers.

Over the years, unions representing public employees have negotiated pension deals for their workers that pay them up to 90 percent of their salary for life, sometimes even if they retire at age 50.

But there's a problem. The pension funds that are supposed to provide those payments don't have enough money to give everyone their due.

And the shortfall is getting worse as more workers retire, and more retired workers live longer. KPCC reporter Steve Proffitt has more with this report.

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