The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 22, 2011
Catch up on what's happening with pension legislation

110822 Assembly chamber.JPGHere's a summary of several bills that alter various aspects of public pensions or pension fund governance in California. We'll be following them through the Sept. 9 end of the current legislative session.

Assembly bills

AB 89 (Hill): Establishes a $245,000 limit on salary that can be used to calculate public employee retirement benefits. Also bans employers from contributions to retirement plans based on salary in excess of the limit.
Status: Cleared Assembly 75-0. Set for Senate floor vote.

AB 340 (Furutani): County retirement systems anti-spiking bill. Also requires a six-month gap between when an county employee retires and returns to work as a retired annuitant.
Status: Assembly voted 73-0 in favor. Senate passed 35-0. Now awaiting Assembly concurrence vote on Senate tweaks to the measure.

AB 344 (Furutani): Ends CalPERS' ablility to exempt individuals from the current 960 hour-per-year limit on retired annuitant employment. Also deletes CalPERS authority to grant exceptions to some compensation rules.
Status: Assembly passed 75-0. Set for Senate floor vote.

AB 873 (Furutani): Extends "revolving door" limits on key staff and board members at CalPERS and CalSTRS.
Status: Assembly passed 78-0. Senate amended and passed 39-0. Now in Assembly for concurrence on Senate tweaks.

AB 1184 (Gatto): Shifts the pension contribution consequences of "excess compensation" paid to a non-union employee to the agency that paid the high salary, instead of the current policy that spreads the burden among all the employee's former employers.
Status: Assembly OK'd 54-23. Senate Appropriations passed 8-0.

AB 1320 (Allen): Requires CalPERS and its employer members to establish rainy-day accounts dedicated to offsetting higher employer contributions.
Status: Cleared the Assembly on a 51-26 vote, but landed in the Senate Appropriations Committee's suspense file because of unknown costs.

Senate bills

SB 27 (Simitian): CalPERS/CalSTRS anti-spiking measure also prohibits retirees from returning to work as annuitants until six months after they leave service.
Status: Passed Senate 39-0. Sent to the Assembly Appropriations Committee's suspense file.

SB 350 (Negrete McLeod): Increases the survivor payouts for about 13,000 CalPERS members who receive the least money from the benefit. The fund paying them has three times the money it needs to fulfill its commitments, according to CalPERS.
Status: Cleared Senate on a 25-14 vote. Assembly passed 49-27. an official copy of the measure is being prepared for consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown. (Brown's predecessor, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed a similar bill last year.)

SB 439 (Negrete McLeod): Lowers the limit on gifts that CalPERS and CalSTRS staff and board members can accept. The current limit is $420 per person/business per year. The new limit would be $50. (CalPERS in-house policy currently bans all gifts for staff.)
Status: Cleared Senate, 39-0. Sent to Assembly consent calendar with amendments, 17-0.

SCA 13 (Cannella, Berryhill, Emmerson, and Harman): State constitutional amendment that would alter everything from how much current and future employees pay toward their retirement accounts to banning retroactive pension increases.
Status: The bill hasn't moved since its June 28 introduction.

PHOTO: The California Assembly Chambers / Brian Baer, 2008 Sacramento Bee file

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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