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Biggest-ever CalPERS pension tops $400,000 per year

Wes Venteicher, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A former top investment official at CalPERS received the largest pension the retirement system has ever paid last year, according to Transparent California and reviews of pension data by The Sacramento Bee.

Curtis Ishii, 64, of Sacramento, retired from the California Public Employees' Retirement System as its managing investment director for fixed income in July 2018.

Last year, Ishii received $418,608 in pension payments, according to Transparent California, a website that tracks public pensions and salaries. His pension topped Transparent California's list of 2019 CalPERS pensions, according to a news release.

CalPERS paid one pension in its history that was larger, but later reduced it to $132,000, according to Transparent California. That pension, originally $551,000 per year, went to former Vernon city manager Bruce Malkenhorst, according to the news release.

The Sacramento Bee reviewed top pension data for 2018, when the highest pension was about $372,000 per year.

Ishii's pension is unusual in that it is being paid to a retired state employee. The other top pensions in the state have been paid to local government officials such as city managers and county administrators, and top administrators at the California State University and University of California. Michael Johnson, a former Solano County administrator, previously held the top spot. Johnson's pension was about $372,000 per year in 2019, according to Transparent California.


Ishii worked at CalPERS for 40 years, according to CalPERS spokeswoman Amy Morgan. Ishii did not respond to voicemails on Tuesday.

In 2017, his last full year of work for the fund, he was paid about $688,000, according to state pay data. He received about $408,000 in regular pay and about $280,000 in other pay, including bonuses, according to the data.

Government pensions are calculated using a formula based on annual salary and years of service. CalPERS investment officers are among the highest-paid California state employees, even though they often make less than their peers in the private sector.

Pensions the size of Ishii's are no longer allowed for new state or local government workers in California. The 2013 Public Employees' Pension Reform Act ties public pensions in the state to an IRS limit, which for 2020 is up to about $152,000 per year. The average public pension in California is about $37,000 per year.


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