Legislature doubles public safety death benefit

Aug. 29, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Don’t let all of the media coverage of the Legislature’s promise of pension reform fool you for one minute into thinking that they are serious. If serious “reform” was really on the table, Assembly Speaker John Perez would not have created a new unfunded mandate for California through his Workers Compensation bill, AB 2451.

This new bill would provide a death benefit whenever former firefighters and peace officers die.  Currently, firefighters and peace officers receive a generous death benefit if they are killed on the job, or die within four and one-half years of retirement.

The new bill could put bad thoughts into the heads of some family members because the benefit is just so enticing: Firefighters and peace officers need not have made health claims during their careers, they merely have to die, as all people eventually do, for family members to claim the new, rich benefit. And in Perez’s bill, the definition of “family” is suspect.

Here are a few details about this rich bill:

* The Legislature would double the statute of limitations from 240 weeks to 480 weeks from the date of injury.

* The bill provides death benefits of $125,000 to $320,000 to some family members of the deceased who are not necessarily financial dependents of the deceased firefighter or peace officer.

* The bill creates a new unfunded mandate on local governments–the same local governments which are filing for bankruptcy and laying off peace officers and firefighters.

The bottom line

Under current law, if a public safety worker dies prior to leaving the job, the surviving family members can file a posthumous workers comp claim and receive a very rich benefit.

“But the problem is that over the years, the legislature has been doing the bidding of unions by creating within the law presumptions that literally put the government (at every level) in the position of having to disprove that a cause of death was work related, rather than the burden of proof being the other way — like it is in the private sector,” Jon Fleishman of the Flash Report wrote.

Lawmakers should instead be creating legislation to end the grossly generous deals that public employee unions have been gifted since 1999, and not increasing their already generous public benefits.

Public safety workers already have retroactive pension enhancements. So why is Perez proposing providing them richer government benefits when the state is financially unstable and vulnerable?

Public safety realignment — cha ching

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed a public safety realignment on the cities and counties of the state.  SB X1 17, the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, moved the responsibility for custody of certain low-level felons, parolees and juveniles from the state to the counties. But the state did nothing to provide local governments a way to pay for these criminals or deal with chronic overcrowding.

The realignment was partly motivated by the theme that better rehabilitation practices may positively impact the state’s 70 percent recidivism rate. Realignment was also based on overcrowding issues: Despite the 33 new adult prisons built over the last 30 years, California’s prison system still suffers from serious overcrowding.

However, in the first year of public safety realignment, nearly half of the counties are in the process of building, renovating or expanding their jails–let the building boon begin again.

In 1999, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis gifted public safety employees with a retirement unheard of — lifetime health benefits together with 90 percent of the annual salaries, after only 30 years of work.

This opened up the flood gates to local governments which immediately jumped on the benefit bandwagon and followed suit–but only after the state expanded the definition of a ‘public safety’ employee.

The state, cities and counties are now precariously perched on the edge of financial meltdown because of unfunded pensions and health benefits. Several California cities have already filed for bankruptcy.

“This is a slap in the face of voters and taxpayers when we haven’t even put forth pension reform,” said Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, during debate on AB 2451. “This is a burden on the taxpayer and cities when they are already filing bankruptcy.”

‘More’ is never enough

Brown has been pushing for Proposition 30, a hefty income and sales tax increase, and now perhaps voters and taxpayers will understand why.

Only in California government are there gold-standard salary and pension and health benefit packages for cops, prison guards, suburban firefighters and highway patrol officers.  Despite the high pay and unbelievable benefits and pensions, it appears that more is never enough.

As Fleishman correctly pointed out, “AB 2451, simply put, is a gift of taxpayer funds to a special class of employees and former employees.”

27 comments

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  1. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 29 August, 2012, 10:13

    This issue perfectly demonstrates the unlimited political influence of the donut muncher cartels and the craven irresponsibility of their Demonrat sock puppets. When faced with a choice between fiscal sanity and political payoffs, old Porky Perez naturally chooses to throw more largesse at those who “serve and protect” him. Many law and order Repulsivecans will go along with this taxpayer rape scheme because they too worship at the altar of the fascist goon unions.

    As always, the cattle herd of California voters grazes placidly, chewing their cud and swishing their tails, unconcerned about the fiscal Armageddon that exists right under their snotty, fly encrusted bovine noses. It’s so reassuring to know that no matter what, the ruling elite’s Praetorian Guard gets 24 carat gold benefits while the taxpayer gets pothole ridden streets, failed schools and a flood of early release criminals roaming their neighborhoods. Business as usual in the permanently dysfunctional Retardpublic of Copafornia.

    Reply this comment
  2. The DA
    The DA 29 August, 2012, 12:26

    First, great article Katie.

    A note to Dyspeptic. I don’t believe the Republicans introduced or co-sponsored the idiotic bill in question. If it makes you feel better to place blame on the side that wouldn’t touch this bill with a ten foot pole, so be it. As a kid you must have been spanked every time your older brother did something wrong.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 13:24

    Another reason the pension taxes are DOA, the money for education is going to this benefit-oh well, so sad, too bad.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 13:25

    A note to Dyspeptic. I don’t believe the Republicans introduced or co-sponsored the idiotic bill in question.

    So what??? The bill passed with FULL repug support, 69-4.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 13:26

    The repugs ALSO passed SB400 by the same margin, get off your repug soap box lies, wont work here, both parties are to blame.

    Reply this comment
  6. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 29 August, 2012, 13:41

    The Republicans who voted to pass the bill are Achadjian, Gorell, Nielsen and Smyth.

    The 19 Republicans who voted “No:” Beth Gaines, Bill Berryhill, Conway, Donnelly, Garrick, Grove, Harkey, Jeffries, Jones, Knight, Logue, Mansoor, Morrell, Nestande, Norby, Olsen, Silva, Valadao, Wagner.

    Katy

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 14:22

    I thought there were only 4 votes against this scam???? You say 18 voted no on this????

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 14:24

    69 yes votes-4 no votes in the assembly;

    NOFFICIAL BALLOT
    MEASURE: AB 2451
    AUTHOR: John A. Pérez
    TOPIC: Workers’ compensation: firefighters.
    DATE: 05/10/2012
    LOCATION: ASM. FLOOR
    MOTION: AB 2451 PEREZ, J. Assembly Third Reading
    (AYES 69. NOES 4.) (PASS)

    AYES
    ****

    Achadjian Alejo Allen Ammiano
    Atkins Beall Bill Berryhill Block
    Blumenfield Bonilla Bradford Brownley
    Buchanan Butler Charles Calderon Campos
    Carter Cedillo Chesbro Conway
    Cook Davis Dickinson Eng
    Feuer Fong Fuentes Beth Gaines
    Galgiani Garrick Gatto Gordon
    Gorell Hagman Hall Harkey
    Hayashi Roger Hernández Hill Huber
    Hueso Huffman Jones Lara
    Logue Bonnie Lowenthal Ma Mendoza
    Miller Mitchell Monning Morrell
    Nestande Nielsen Pan Perea
    Portantino Silva Skinner Smyth
    Solorio Swanson Torres Valadao
    Wagner Wieckowski Williams Yamada
    John A. Pérez

    NOES
    ****

    Donnelly Grove Mansoor Norby

    ABSENT, ABSTAINING, OR NOT VOTING
    *********************************

    Fletcher Furutani Halderman Jeffries
    Knight Olsen V. Manuel Pérez

    Reply this comment
  9. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 29 August, 2012, 15:37

    It’s good to be part of the Praetorian Guard.

    Reply this comment
  10. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 29 August, 2012, 15:44

    Well said Skipper– and a godd day to you all! TED

    Reply this comment
  11. us citizen
    us citizen 29 August, 2012, 15:48

    Perez needs to be nuked. This guy is INSANE. The state is in a pile of shit and he is doing this? OMG………shoot me now and put me out of my misery.

    Reply this comment
  12. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 16:39

    I think Porky Perez is Tedyd Steals;)

    Reply this comment
  13. Queeg
    Queeg 29 August, 2012, 17:22

    Hail and giveth to Cesar Perez what is Cesar’s.

    -so there

    Reply this comment
  14. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 29 August, 2012, 21:01

    The 19 Republicans who voted “No:” Beth Gaines, Bill Berryhill, Conway, Donnelly, Garrick, Grove, Harkey, Jeffries, Jones, Knight, Logue, Mansoor, Morrell, Nestande, Norby, Olsen, Silva, Valadao, Wagner.
    ================
    Remember these evil people!! They “”HATE”” Teachers,police officers, and Firefighters.

    Reply this comment
  15. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 22:48

    LOL..NTHEOC, tries to claim anyone who wants to stop his scam as a “hater”…. I love it 🙂

    Reply this comment
  16. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 23:24

    Is that Teddy in the pic with the donut??

    Reply this comment
  17. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 29 August, 2012, 23:28

    Rex the Wonder Dog! says:
    August 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    LOL..NTHEOC, tries to claim anyone who wants to stop his scam as a “hater”…. I love it
    ——————————————-
    Oh Rex, you “PLAYA HATA”!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  18. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 29 August, 2012, 23:33

    Rex the Wonder Dog! says:
    Is that Teddy in the pic with the donut??
    ——————–
    No, its Chris Christie!!!

    Reply this comment
  19. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 30 August, 2012, 09:17

    Chris Christie is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE— Teddy is svelt, toned, and buffed!

    Reply this comment
  20. eatingdogfood
    eatingdogfood 30 August, 2012, 11:26

    Dear Public Sector Employee or Retire : I would like to meet up with you for some Companionship and maybe even some Romance! I need a little Support at this time in my life cause I worked in the Private Sector for a Major Corporation for 45 Years and my Pension is frankly, Pathetic. I guess I’m Lucky to even have a Pension as Pathetic as it is. And the Private Sector Pension that I have, has NO COLA Provisions. So the longer that I am retired, the Pension Check remains the Same. I don’t have any Medical either, Except paying through the nose for Medicare. I know that you Guys and Girls in the Public Sector don’t have those Problems. I helped you Guys and Girls out for 45 Years by again Paying through the Nose in Taxes which supported you Guys and Girls in the Public Sector so that you would be Comfortable. Even though I’m in my 70’s, I can still get it up, so don’t worry about that. And if need be; there are always Chemicals to take care of that kind of Problem. Hoping to hear from you soon.

    Reply this comment
  21. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 30 August, 2012, 13:14

    Perez like many in Sacramento is of the “ferme generale” class.
    Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite.

    May he and his ilk meet fate as the originals.
    Peace, Love, No Mercy.

    Reply this comment
  22. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 30 August, 2012, 13:43

    Dear Pvt Sector Worker Who did not save enough for retirement.-

    Sad to hear that you didn’t start young while working perhaps paying off your house before your old age like so many of us did. I guess you thought you’d hit it big out there in the pvt sector and would be ok. I am sorry about the second you also took on that home and the new cars you always had, must’ve been expensive. I bet you thought this day would never come. I am glad though that you have long supported regulations that if prosecuted fully will prevent another greed fueled bubble burst by the fat cats that drove you to ruin. I am also glad to see that you wisely supported our leaders who over time have attempted to construct a safety net to help folks who have fallen on hard times, well, like yourself. I am glad that at least you had the foresight to save the max each year in your 401k, since most of that has bounced back since thwe 08 losses I bet you feel a bit better. While it may be hard for you to hear, at least we are not shedding jobs the way we were at the start of the Bush Depresion and now have had 29 months of private sector job growth and avoioded a major depression.– Ted

    Reply this comment
  23. Al Moncrief
    Al Moncrief 30 August, 2012, 14:44

    WHY ARE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS NOT SUPPORTING THE BREACH OF THEIR RETIRED MEMBER’S PENSION CONTRACTS LIKE PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS IN COLORADO? (THE GREATEST ACT OF TREACHERY IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. UNION MOVEMENT.)

    PROOF THAT COLORADO’S GOVERNMENT LIES: COLORADO PERA’S ATTEMPT TO TAKE CONTRACTED RETIREE BENEFITS.

    When I was young I held the belief that public service in the United States is honorable, that the United States of America was exceptional in the world, that governments in the United States, while flawed, deserved the respect of citizens.

    Now that I am old, I see that I was naive . . . that governmental entities in the United States will intentionally deceive to achieve their goals, and that over two centuries our soldiers have died for a country that will countenance, and even celebrate, base behavior on the part of its public sector instrumentalities. It saddens me, but if this state of affairs persists in the United States . . . Honor is dead.

    Some background . . .

    You may know that an entity of Colorado state government, Colorado PERA, is attempting to breach its public pension contracts with its retirees. Colorado PERA is attempting a retroactive taking, a “clawback” of accrued, fully-vested pension benefits that were earned by retired PERA members over decades.

    Colorado PERA public pension benefits include a “base benefit” that is set at retirement and a “COLA benefit” that adjusts pensions annually to compensate for inflation. The “base benefit” and the “COLA benefit” are set forth in Colorado statutes with identical force of law and legal status.

    In its attempt to breach retiree contracts Colorado PERA has created a contrivance. The contrivance that Colorado PERA is using is that somehow the “base benefit” is a contractual obligation, but the “COLA benefit” is not a contractual obligation, in spite of the fact that both pension benefits are set forth in law in an identical manner. What this boils down to is attempted, unabashed, theft by government.

    Whether or not Colorado PERA’s attempt to take fully-vested public pension benefits from PERA retirees is ultimately successful in the courts, one fact has been incontrovertibly established . . . Colorado PERA, as an instrumentality of the State of Colorado, is an organization that will lie to achieve its policy goals.

    This is a sad fact for the many employees of Colorado PERA, for the trustees that have served on the Colorado PERA Board of Trustees over 80 years, and for the thousands of PERA members and retirees.
    And now, the proof of the deceit . . .

    Colorado PERA has told us, in writing, that the PERA COLA benefit IS a contractual obligation of PERA . . . and then, after initiating their attempt to breach contracts, Colorado PERA has told us, in writing, that the PERA COLA benefit IS NOT a contractual obligation of PERA. Both of these statements cannot be true.

    Colorado PERA in a written document, to the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee on December 16, 2009 states that the PERA COLA benefit IS a contractual obligation of PERA:

    “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

    Link:

    http://www.kentlambert.com/Files/PERA_JBC_Hearing_Responses-12-16-2009_Final.pdf

    Colorado PERA on page 23 of its May 6, 2011 “Reply Brief” in the pension case Justus v. State states that the PERA COLA benefit IS NOT a contractual obligation of PERA:

    “Plaintiffs seek to create a contract right that has never existed—an unchangeable COLA for life triggered (inconsistently) by either the date of their retirement or ‘full vesting.’”

    Link:

    http://saveperacola.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/2011-05-06-pera-defendants_-reply-in-support-of-summary-judgment.pdf

    That is simply unbelievable.

    In one document PERA writes “the contract right has never existed.” In the other they write that the COLA benefit is a contractual obligation protected under the Colorado and US constitutions.

    When PERA writes that they need “actuarial necessity” to take the COLA benefit, they are not denying that it is a contractual obligation, in fact, it is an admission of the contractual nature of the COLA benefit.

    For further information regarding Colorado PERA’s attempt to take fully-vested pension benefits from retirees visit saveperacola.com or Friend Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

    Reply this comment
  24. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 August, 2012, 15:31

    Dear Teddy Trouhgie, your post is too long, cliff notes buddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  25. eatingdogfood
    eatingdogfood 30 August, 2012, 16:02

    You really didn’t think that Gov. Moonbeam and his Double Dealing
    Democratic Cohorts would Stab their Union Bosses in the Back, Did Ya ???
    Only one way out of this !!! Declare Martial Law and Nationalize the
    National Guard and Arrest All the Democrats and Union Bosses on RICO
    Conspiracy Charges !!!

    Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2012/08/read-the-california-public-pension-reform-bill-california-state-and-local-jerry-brown.html#storylink=cpy

    Reply this comment
  26. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 August, 2012, 23:02

    While it may be hard for you to hear, at least we are not shedding jobs the way we were at the start of the Bush Depresion and now have had 29 months of private sector job growth and avoioded a major depression.– Ted

    Job Growth…hahahahahaha….we’re in a depression fool 😉 Have been since 007. Why do oyu htink al lthese munis are going BK??????????????

    Wake up sleepy troll.

    Reply this comment
  27. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 8 September, 2012, 11:23

    Gotta love Rex telling us we “avoided a major depression” by some Democrat magic. That’s like saying that the Democrats saved us from an asteroid strike — and we know this because no asteroid struck.

    But Rex can’t explain away how we compare with the OTHER states. That’s a comparison he wants to avoid at all costs.

    CA has the 3rd highest state unemployment rate. (July, 2012) – 10.7%. National unemployment rate 8.3%. National unemployment rate not including CA is only 8.0%, making the CA unemployment rate 34.2% higher than the average of the other 49 states.
    http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

    And if you compare Democrat vs. GOP states, guess which states have made a much better recovery?

    Reply this comment

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