Gov. Newsom proposes to chip away at mountain of pension liability and ease school districts' burden

 Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first budget offers some pension-cost relief to school districts and community colleges. Under the proposed budget, they’ll pay about half the increase in rates they had anticipated next year and in 2020-21. Newsom is proposing to use some of an expected state budget surplus to pay roughly the other half — $700 million divided over two years. Pension payments are a big factor in districts’ rising costs.

Cory Koedel, an associate professor of economic and public policy at the University of Missouri, said Newsom’s proposal risks “a false sense of having done something, like not using plastic straws to save the environment.” “It’s a nice gesture with short-term relief, but it does not change the fundamental nature of the problem that got us here,” said Koedel, co-author of the study Pensions and California Public Schools, which is part of Getting Down to Facts, three dozen reports on California education organized by Stanford University that were published last fall.