Prison Guards: Lone Holdout on Pension Reform

pension-reform-stockGovernor Calls Out Republican Legislators for Attempting to Block Reform –

Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger used his weekly radio address on Saturday to call out Republican legislators, who he says tried to block his pension reform bill this month as selling out to the prison guard union for campaign contributions.

The reform was designed to roll back major state worker pension increases that were implemented in 1999 that set in motion a round of local government pension increases that critics have claimed are unsustainable and will increasingly eat up funds needed for general operating expenses.

Ed Mendel from Calpensions.com reports that Governor Schwarzenegger claims his state-worker pension reforms will save $100 billion in the decades to come.

“They also pave the way for local governments to follow suit, because pension reform is necessary at every level of government,” Gov. Schwarzenegger said. “In fact, in San Jose and San Francisco there are initiatives on the ballot that include many of the same reforms we just passed.”

These reforms require large worker contributions, two-tiered pensions with new hires getting lower rates, measures to curb pension spiking by manipulating final pay, and directing CalPERS to be more transparent about cost risks when raising state payments to the pension fund.

In his radio address, the Governor attacks Democratic and Republican legislators alike as being in bed with public employee unions. He saved his most pointed comments for his fellow Republicans, describling them as “hidden under the sheets” and who preach fiscal responsibility.

Among the Republicans blocking the pension bill, the governor said, were Senators Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo and Assemblymen Kevin Jeffries of Lake Elsinore and Paul Cook of Yucca Valley.

“They held eloquent speeches on the floor saying, ‘This is terrible. We can’t hurt the CCPOA, the prison guard union. This is unfair to them,’” the governor said.

Ed Mendel reports that the CCPOA has been without a contract since 2007, and has not been holding formal bargaining talks with the Governor or his administration.

“A breakthrough came when the Highway Patrol union, which negotiated the trendsetting safety formula in SB 400, agreed to a rollback earlier this year, along with five other smaller unions,” Mr. Mendel reported.  “The giant Service Employees International Union Local 1000 agreed to a rollback shortly before the budget passed, leaving the prison guards as the lone holdout among major state worker unions.”

Ed Mendel went on to describe the Republican blockade process, which was bypassed by getting a signature from Secretary of State Debra Bowen at her home at 3 a.m., clearing the way for a legislative special session.

“The governor said the special session allowed the pension bill to be passed on a majority vote, rather than a two-thirds vote, with Democrats providing all the votes expected from them,” Mr. Mendel reported.

After the pension bill passed, several Republicans, including Assemblymen Jeff Miller of Mission Viejo and Dan Logue of Linda, changed their votes so the official record would not reflect their opposition.

“Not only did they try to block reform, but then they did not even have the courage to publicly stand behind their action,” said the Governor. “They were worried that when they went back to their districts people would find out they sided with labor rather than with the taxpayers.”

Governor Schwarzenegger said the Republican legislators mentioned in his address received a total of more than $75,000 in campaign contributions from the prison guard union.

“Maybe these Republicans sold out simply because they got campaign contributions from the state prison guards’ union,” the governor said in his radio address. “I don’t know. You figure it out.”

Meanwhile a blog called “Friend of Fullerton’s Future” is reporting that the CalPERs annual pension liability reports for local agencies, which would normally be released in October, have been delayed until after the November elections.

Local governments like Davis have been bracing for the bad news, which now apparently will occur in November.

The blog suggests, “The delays are allegedly due to furloughs, but conveniently prevent local pension watchdogs from using the data to promote fiscally conservative candidates and pension reform leading up to November 2nd.”

Whether the blog’s reasoning is true or not is unclear.

This report should be of particular interest to Davis, along with other local communities.  Davis is facing a huge potential hit in the next few years, with its retirement obligations likely to remove an increasing amount of the general fund from existing city services.

The question is really how bad will it be, and it appears we will have wait awhile longer to find that out.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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4 Comments

  1. hpierce

    [quote]This report should be of particular interest to Davis along with other local communities. [/quote]
    Can we count on you to get a copy and post it, irregardless of what it contains?

  2. Dr. Wu

    I am very disturbed that CALPERS, by not releasing a report it normally would (assuming what you say is true) is becoming part of the process.

    I agree with Arnie once again. I wish he had been this outspoken before he became a lame duck though. Some of this happened on his watch.

    As for the prison guard’s union I find their behavior reprehensible. Perhaps California should outsource our penal system to Texas which averages about 1/3 of our costs per prisoner. Republicans like to privatize everything or say they favor competition. How about some competition here?

  3. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “In his radio address, the Governor attacks Democratic and Republican legislators alike as being in bed with public employee unions. He saved his most pointed comments for his fellow Republicans, describling them as “hidden under the sheets” and who preach fiscal responsibility.”

    Both sides were at it, so why did the Governator single out Republicans? Because they were from his own party and he couldn’t even get them to cooperate perhaps? It was a particular embarrassment to him. To me it just shows poor leadership on his part, but then what else is new. Not that CA is easy to govern…

    dmg: “Governor Schwarzenegger said the Republican legislators mentioned in his address received a total of more than $75,000 in campaign contributions from the prison guard union.”

    And how much did the Democrats receive from this union, if you know?

    dmg: “Meanwhile a blog called “Friend of Fullerton’s Future” is reporting that the CalPERs annual pension liability reports for local agencies, which would normally be released in October, have been delayed until after the November elections.”

    I’m assuming CalPERS is deciding to do this. The question is why? What legislators are they trying to protect? The incumbents? The majority in control (Democrats)? Now who is gaming the system and beholden to the unions?

    Just read a very interesting article. It described the pension issue as a national crisis. Clearly pension reform HAS TO HAPPEN for the nation to remain fiscally solvent. Also read another article, that puts CA with the worst credit rating of all 50 states, at A-. Someone better get our house in order in CA…

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