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Appeals court calls for opening pension records

The Sacramento Bee and the First Amendment Coalition won an important appeals court ruling Wednesday in the battle to obtain pension data for government employees.

Many government agencies have their own pension systems and don’t use CalPERS. These smaller agencies have opposed revealing the pension benefits of retirees. But the Bee reports that a three-justice appeals court panel ruled in a 49-page opinion that the Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System, or SCERS, “must disclose names and corresponding pension benefits amounts of its members.”

The Bee’s Brad Branan wrote that the length of the opinion suggests the justices were anticipating a review by the state Supreme Court. That court in 2007 ruled in favor of disclosure of public employee salaries in a case brought by the Contra Costa Times against Oakland. The Sacramento pension agency hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

While CalPERS has disclosed pension benefit information, many independent pension systems, such as Sacramento County’s, have not. For a list of independent public pension systems, go to page four of this report by Stanford’s Joe Nation.

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