The names of San Diego County public employees retiring with six-figure pensions are a matter public record, according to a court ruling in a case brought by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association with amicus briefs filed by the Small Business Action Committee and a number of newspapers.

The 4th District Court of Appeal held, in a published decision that applies statewide, that public employee retirement systems must disclose the names and pension amounts of retired public employees.

This is a significant victory, and a vindication. Even when we have won lawsuits, retirement agencies across the state of California have refused to release their data unless under the threat of lawsuit. Today’s published appellate precedent settles this issue once and for all.

The decision is significant because it requires for the first time that the worksheet of how their pension amounts was calculated must be made public. The worksheet reveals details that explain how some public employees are able to retire with pensions significantly higher than the salaries they earned while employed.

The court cited specific examples of “pension spiking” that had been uncovered in other counties where HJTA has sued. Although such revelations may embarrass those involved, the court held that pensions are primarily publicly-funded and there is an overriding public interest in knowing how taxpayer funds are being spent.

An appellate court in Sacramento and three recent Superior Court decisions in other counties – Orange County, Contra Costa County and Stanislaus County – similarly sided with taxpayers in ruling that pension information of public employees is public record.