Last month, the League of California Cities released a survey revealing trends in California’s municipal pension plans. From that survey, we can see models of how pension reform is moving throughout the state. And the reforms are fascinating.

The statistics consistently tell the same thing: the state is ready to reform pensions. This reinforces lessons learned in the last election cycle, where ballot-measure driven pension reform was approved nearly everywhere it appeared. However, pension reform is not being applied equally.

When a city adopts a two-tiered pension system, public safety employees are only included in the new tier about a quarter of the time.

The common way that cities are adjusting their public safety pensions is by increasing the retirement age, while they have been less enthusiastic about actually reducing the percentage. In other words, many cities are adjusting their pension equations from a 3% at 50 to a 3% at 55. The less common alternative is a 2% at 50.

When miscellaneous employees entered into a new tier, they would be part of a less lucrative 2% at 60.

One of the reforms that will lead to more immediate savings is increasing employee contributions. And cities are doing that. The previous norm was the city covering employee contributions, however that has shifted in recent years. Now it appears that employees are covering as much as 9% of their pension costs.

Additionally, there is a growing movement to average several years of compensation to prevent pension spiking. While only 12% of cities have adopted that reform so far.

You can read the full report at the League of Cities website.