When the city manager of troubled Stockton, Calif., had to tell city council members why it was on track to become the biggest American city yet to go bankrupt, it took hours to get through the list.
There was the free health care for retirees, the unpaid parking tickets, the revenue bonds without enough revenue to pay them. On it went, a grim drumbeat of practically every fiscal malady imaginable, except an obvious one: municipal pensions. Stockton is spending some $30 million a year to pay for them, but it has less than 70 cents set aside for every dollar of benefits its workers expect.
The cause of pension reform in California took a significant body shot Wednesday when a group hoping to put an overhaul measure before voters this year suspended its campaign.
Beleaguered by fundraising problems and questions about the viability of its proposals, California Pension Reform shut down its efforts. The group's officials blamed the demise on a "false and misleading" summary of the plan by Attorney General Kamala Harris, a charge the Democrat denied.
The death of California Pension Reform's efforts also wounded Gov. Jerry Brown's pension proposals to the Democratic-controlled Legislature, one analyst said, by removing the threat of a more draconian measure going before voters.
Faced with a growing pension burden, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council moved this summer to freeze the amount of healthcare benefits given to thousands of police and firefighters once they retire. Those benefits would not increase in coming years, Villaraigosa said, unless employees contribute more toward retirement from their paychecks. [Read More...]
Sacramento Bee Sept. 8, 2011 --Lawmakers essentially threw in the towel Thursday on comprehensive public pension reform - at least for now.
With this year's legislative session scheduled to end at midnight today, the Assembly voted 51-21 to approve a last-minute bill declaring its commitment to pension reform but conceding that more time is needed.
Michael Bilbrey and Richard Ross – the two candidates in the CalPERS runoff election for a vacant seat on the CalPERS Board of Administration – will face off at an upcoming candidates’ forum. [Read More...]
Abandoning negotiations with Republican lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown struck a deal with Democrats for a budget that assumes billions of dollars in fresh revenue — but could lead to major service cuts if the money doesn't materialize.
With California's new fiscal year starting Friday and no compromise with the GOP on a budget in sight, Gov. Jerry Brown's chief spokesman called Sacramento Republicans "basically moronic" for failing to strike [Read More...]
Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced today that they have reached an agreement on a new majority-vote budget plan.
"We've had some tough discussions, but I can tell you that the Democrats in both the Senate and the Assembly have now joined with the administration and myself and we have a very good plan going forward with the budget," Brown said at a press conference in his office this afternoon. [Read More...]
Sacramento Bee June 16, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed his own party's budget today, less than 24 hours after Democratic lawmakers sent him a majority-vote plan balanced with risky solutions.
The Democratic governor said during his campaign and throughout this year he would not sign a budget filled with "gimmicks," though he suggested earlier this week he had relaxed that stance.
Republican lawmakers are prepared to let voters decide whether to close California's stubborn budget deficit with higher taxes in exchange for major changes in state spending, public pensions and regulatory policies.