The state has a New Year’s surprise for motorists. Sorry, it isn’t road improvements. Auto registration fees are going up $10, beginning in April, to help offset the rising cost of pensions for retired CHP officers. “It’s a pension tax — call it what it is,” state Sen. John Moorlach, an Orange County Republican, told Bloomberg News.
CHP officers were the first state employees to receive enhanced pension benefits during the dot-com boom of the 1990s, a retroactive increase that allows those hired before 2013 to retire at age 50 with up to 90 percent of their salaries. The average pension for officers who retired in 2015 is $77,000 a year, according to the California Public Employees Retirement System.
But, Bloomberg reported last week, the investment fund covering CHP retiree pensions is in worse shape than any other fund managed by CalPERS, resulting in a $445 million increase in what state taxpayers must contribute in the current fiscal year. In turn, the state is increasing the basic auto registration fee to $56 — a $10 bump. Thumbs down.