California Unveils Finance Data Website; Pension Data To Be Added Later

Flag of California

California has launched, a website designed to give citizens easy access to financial data for every city and county in the state.

The website, launched by Controller John Chiang, will eventually contain data for all of the more than 100 pension funds in California. That data will include investment returns, administrative costs, assets and liabilities.

From the Fresno Bee: allows taxpayers to track revenues, expenditures, liabilities, assets, fund balances and other information provided by more than 450 cities and the 58 counties statewide. The data runs from fiscal year 2002-03 through 2012-13.

Controller John Chiang, who is running for state treasurer, said in a statement that the website is moving government information “out of the analog dark ages into the digital era.”

The website allows users to download raw figures, convert them into charts and share the information freely. Chiang’s office said the data will be refreshed each year with updates sent in by local governments.

Chiang is a member of the boards of both major California pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS.

Local New York Lawmaker Calls For Review of “Double-Dipping” Policy

Manhattan, New York

A local New York lawmaker is calling for changes in the way Westchester County handles so-called “double-dipping”, the term commonly used to describe a worker who draws both a salary and a public pension concurrently.

Reported by Politics on the Hudson:

In the wake of the arrest of an aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on a DWI charge, Democratic Legislator Ken Jenkins is renewing his call for legislation to require to Board of Legislators to approve pension waiver requests.

Hugh Fox Jr., the aide, who is also the chairman of the Westchester Conservative Party, had secured two two-year waivers from the state to allow him to collect both his pension from years as a Yonkers firefighter and his county salary. The county was seeking a third waiver for him when Fox was arrested Monday night after a five-car chain-reaction crash. He resigned his county job the next day.

In a press release, Jenkins said it was time to end “automatic approvals for the County Executive’s political cronies to double dip.”

The lawmaker, Ken Jenkins, says he doesn’t want to deny outright workers’ chance to earn a salary and draw a pension. But he says those waivers should undergo more scrutiny before approval. From Politics on the Hudson:

“There are probably some rare instances when a retiree would make a good hire for the County, and it would make sense financially for the waiver to be granted,” said Jenkins. “But for the sake of good, open and transparent government that keeps the interests of our taxpayers at the forefront of decision making, we must take these automatic, unilateral approvals out of the purview of only the Administration and let the Board of Legislators also deliberate on each waiver, case by case, and make a decision up or down.”

Jenkins had introduced the legislation last January, but is bringing it up again in light of the recent events.