The state legislature’s pension “reform”
by Jan Goldsmith
In adopting AB 340, the pension reform measure, rather than using San Diego’s Proposition B as a model for real reform, the Legislature and Governor seem to have used San Diego’s Proposition D as the model. That was the proposed sales tax increase accompanied by hollow promises of reform. The difference is that voters scrutinized Proposition D in 2010 and rejected it, while the 2012 “pension reform” was drafted in secret and made public only days before its adoption, accompanied by lauding comments from California’s Sacramento media.
One exception is Dan Walters, whose experience allowed him to see right through this.
Another exception is Dan Borenstein, who has also raised serious issues about this legislation.
This should be called exactly what it is — a scheme dreamed up by the Governor, Democratic legislators and the labor unions to stop the pension reform movement at the grass roots and help pass the Governor’s tax hike without committing to meaningful reforms.
What little reforms that are included won’t help for many years and can easily be rescinded later after they have been used to convince voters to support more tax increases. In fact, AB 340 states that the legislature will adopt additional legislation next year to implement the plan. That legislation could easily water down these nominal “reforms.”
What’s more, even if every change remains in place, the rosy projections are realized and Borenstein’s problems are corrected, the changes will only cut the pension unfunded debt by at most 25 percent. What about the other $200 to $450 million in unfunded debt?
Last week, I attended the Republican National Convention. One of the benefits of attending a national convention is to interact with delegates from other states. I spent considerable time speaking with political activists from Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey about how they were able to elect strong fiscally conservative governors who then began turning their states around. I was jealous, but learned a lot. The common thread is that they told the truth about fiscal issues, didn’t back down and laid out clear and common sense alternatives. Then, they supported their new governors in their battles to enact and implement real reforms.
I look forward to attending a future Republican convention and speaking with delegates about how we elected a governor and achieved real reform.
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Goldsmith, a former local elected official, assemblyman and superior court judge, is San Diego’s city attorney.