Will pension reform make leg deadline?

May 31, 2012

Katy Grimes: With the budget deadline looming, the Legislature is also facing a June 1 deadline for bills to be passed out of the house of which they originate.

In the Senate yesterday during floor debate over a bill to create a private sector pension program, Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, argued that  the state had no business creating a pension program for the private sector, when the state’s own pension programs were nearly bankrupt.

Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento argued that in addition to creating a private sector pension program, the Legislature would be passing pension reform. “By the end of session, we will deliver public pension reform,” Steinberg said.

But this means that a bill needs to be presented today or tomorrow.

But Blakeslee challenged back, and said that the Gov. Jerry Brown’s promised pension reform bill is already printed and waiting, but legislators have not been provided the bill’s language. Blakeslee indicated that the bill would undoubtedly be presented to legislators at the very last minute, right before taking a vote.

“We should vote on it today, and not wait until the last day to see what’s cooked up,” Blakeslee said.

In February, Republicans announced they were backing Brown’s pension reform proposals which would require public employees to pay more toward their retirement benefits, and would cut benefits for new hires.

As important as pension reform is in California, it is chilling to see that the same old legislative control games being played. The leaders of the two houses, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Steinberg, both have prior work experience with big labor unions and are tied at the hip to unions in California.

The fox is guarding the henhouse and real pension reform seems like a long shot. This is why the Legislature has been working so hard to prevent cities and counties from filing for municipal bankruptcy so easily.

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