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Your Tax Dollars and Someone Else's Retirement Benefits

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Talking about pensions isn't exactly sexy, but when you get angry about potholes not getting fixed, lack of public transit and other downsized city services, many would point to the unattractive word is one big part of the problem.

Here's one local example. By 2015, one third of the city of Los Angeles' general fund, which pays for core services like police, fire, parks, etc, could be dedicated to retirement benefits. "For every dollar you're paying into your pension systems, you're not paying into libraries, parks and various other city services," the city's top budget official explained earlier this month.

Why is this all happening now? Ed Mendel, who blogs about pensions in California, earlier this year explained that "the surge from an historic stock market crash, which punched big holes in pension investment funds, is creating concern that pension benefits approved in better economic times are not 'sustainable' and need to be cut for new hires."