CalWatchdog Morning Read – September 19

  • CalWatchdogLogoPensions cost taxpayers billions, but weren’t supposed to 
  • Group sues five coastal commissioners over hundreds of alleged transparency violations
  • Sausage making on last night of legislative session
  • Airbnb challenges laws it doesn’t like
  • Senate odd couple actually work together to make policy

Good morning. Hope y’all had a good weekend. There’s a really interesting story in the Los Angeles Times today about a pension-improvement bill signed by then-Governor Gray Davis and how much the measure is costing taxpayers, despite the sales pitch almost two decades ago that it would pay for itself.

“Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.

“They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come.

“This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined. …

“Today, the difference between what all California government agencies have set aside for pensions and what they will eventually owe amounts to $241 billion, according to the state controller.

“Davis, who was elected in 1998 with more than $5 million in campaign contributions from public employee unions, says that if he had it to do over, he would not support the pension improvements.

“’If you’re asking me, with everything I’ve learned in the last 17 years, would I have signed SB400 … no, I would not have signed it,” Davis, now 73, said in a recent interview at his Century City law office.'”

The Los Angeles Times has more. 

In other news:

  • “A lawsuit served this month against five California Coastal Commissioners could cost them millions of dollars in civil fines if the courts confirm hundreds of alleged transparency rule violations,” reports The San Jose Mercury News.
  • “Sneakiness abounded on the last, hectic night of California legislature’s session,” reports The Sacramento Bee
  • “As cities around the country attempt to regulate the growing home-sharing industry, Airbnb is going on the offensive with a barrage of lawsuits intended to kill local rules it doesn’t like. Airbnb has sued San Francisco, Santa Monica and Anaheim over ordinances that force the company to remove or refuse bookings that violate city laws, and it has threatened to sue the state of New York if a similar bill there is approved.” The San Jose Mercury News has more. 

  • “The oddest of Senate odd couples — California Democrat Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe — have accomplished something highly unusual in this bitter election year: significant, bipartisan legislation on the environment that has become law,” reports AP/SF Gate.


  • Gone ’til December.

Gov. Brown:

  • Continuing his statewide signing tour, Brown will be in Long Beach at 10:30 a.m. to sign a measure fighting “super pollutants.”

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