The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 26, 2012
California retirement savings bill advances in the Senate

120426 Steinberg and de Leon.JPGLegislation to create a state retirement account program for private sector workers in California cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1234, authored by Democratic Sen. Kevin de León, cleared the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on a 4-1 vote. In favor: Sens. Ted Lieu, D-Torrence; Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

Republican Sen. Mark Wyland, of Solana Beach, cast the lone no vote. Sens. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, and Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, didn't vote.

The measure creates a state-run "California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust" that would set up professionally-managed retirement savings accounts for private-sector workers.

Opponents -- insurers, a variety of trade industries and the California Chamber of Commerce, among others -- contend it establishes a needless new bureaucracy, creates uncertainty for employers and damages businesses that already sell retirement savings vehicles.

Critics have also charged that Democrats offered up the measure to counter pressure they've felt to change public employee pensions. Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg rejected that notion and has said on numerous occasions that Democrats, who hold a legislative majority, will enact substantive pension reform legislation this year.

SB 1234 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

California Democrats push pension plan for nongovernment workers

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento (left), and Sen. Kevin de Léon, D-Los Angeles, walk to an event where they unveiled legislation on Feb. 23 to create a state-run retirement system for private sector workers in California. Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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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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