The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 9, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: Jerry Brown's pension reform legislation

Thumbnail image for countdown 3.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

It's not often that a governor issues draft legislation and invites lawmakers and special interests to kick it around, but that's exactly what Gov. Jerry Brown did nearly a year ago by releasing state and local public pension reform language.

Pension reform crusaders said the plan was weak. Minority Republicans, who had little political leverage, eventually co-opted Brown's pension legislation as their own and then dared the Democratic governor and majority-party lawmakers to reject it. The political judo move didn't trip up the Democrats, who simply ignored the Republican's/Brown's bill.

The public pension measure that Brown signed in September included many of his original proposals, from putting an end to service credit purchases and "pension holidays" for employers and employees to pushing back the normal retirement age and requiring workers and their employers to split normal pension costs 50-50.

Brown's hybrid pension idea didn't gain traction, nor did any of the changes to the CalPERS board's composition that would have required changing the state constitution.

How will history regard Brown's push for pension reform? It probably depends on whether the new law sticks for at least a generation. That's how long it will take for state and local governments to fully realize its impact on their finances and their recruiting and retention.

For now it's safe to say this: Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for all of his public-pension rhetoric, didn't accomplish the changes that Brown signed into law last year.

Here's the State Worker's No. 3 post of 2012: Jerry Brown delivers pension reform language to legislators

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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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