The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 13, 2010
Pension fighter faces deadline for latest ballot measure

101009 secreatry of state seal.gifIf there's an election on the horizon, you can bet pension clawback crusader Paul McCauley has a ballot initiative in the works.

The Southern California CPA's latest, which would impose a variety of legally questionable taxes and fees on pension income above $40,000 per year, faces a Nov. 8 deadline to get 433,971 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Like others McCauley paid the $200 state fee to file, we're betting this this measure dies a silent deadline death. Here's a summary from the Secretary of State's website:

Imposes on California residents a new annual surcharge (between $5,000 and $50,750) and a new annual tax (between 20% and 60%) on all pension income, including employer-paid health insurance premiums, in excess of $40,000. May impose a one-time additional tax on non-California residents whose pension benefits earned in California in a taxable year exceed $40,000. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potential annual state revenue increase of up to $18 billion beginning in 2012 and decreasing over time from new taxes on pension benefits. This estimate assumes the proposed excise tax is upheld by the courts.

The full text of the measure, which you can read here, includes this slam on "former Governor Gerald Brown and his former Chief of Staff, Gray Davis":

The People declare that it was former Governor Gerald Brown and his former Chief of Staff, Gray Davis, who laid the foundation for the approximate $500 billion in unfunded pension obligations and the approximate $180 billion in unfunded health insurance obligations to California's public employees. That former Governor Gerald Brown, now candidate for governor Gerald Brown, makes no apology for his error, makes no offer to correct his error and goes about the state sniffing about for campaign contributions from the very public employee unions that are the root of California's fiscal bankruptcy.

In keeping with it's duty to analyze even far-fetched measures that qualify for signature gathering, the Legislative Analyst's Office looked at the McCauley plan and concluded that it might violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Click here for that analysis.

Long-time State Worker blog users are familiar with McCauley's penchant for proposition promotion. His last swing-and-miss measure sought to impose a one-time tax of 55 percent on high-end real estate and a 54 percent tax on millionaires who die or leave the state, among other provisions. The revenue would have gone to the general fund first, with the excess used to buy stock in "various weapons, petroleum, automotive, media and financial companies."

That measure, The McCauley-Rosen Wealth Tax and Oceans Preservation Act, failed to gather enough signatures by it's Aug. 3 deadline.

Click here for other State Worker posts about McCauley's devotion to direct democracy.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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