The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 15, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: Lawmakers reach public pension deal

Thumbnail image for countdown 1.JPGThis is the last in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

Events that seem momentous at the time often are partially or completely undone by subsequent events or simply time's passage. How many high school buddies fade into memory's mist? How many marriages end in divorce?

It's especially true in politics: A century of legal race discrimination followed the passage of the 13th Amendment. More recently in California, voters passed Proposition 8, which is then challenged in the courts and could be undone there or by another ballot initiative.

While not nearly as socially significant as slavery or same-sex marriage, public pension changes in California have a similar here-today-gone-tomorrow history. Over the last 25 years, the benefit has become a political football, with state and local officials of all stripes playing one side or the other, approving benefits, pulling them back, rewriting laws or undoing them as the politics of the moment dictate.

On Aug. 28, about an hour before Gov. Jerry Brown formally announced it, The Bee broke the news that he had reached an agreement with lawmakers on pension reform. The announcement ended -- for now, anyway -- a four-year public debate over public employee retirement benefits waged by Republicans, pension reformers, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office and the Little Hoover Commission.

Now, just a few weeks into the latest pension-change law, there's controversy brewing over how it should be applied after CalPERS sent a list to employer members in December that views nearly 100 varieties of pay beyond base wages to be pensionable.

How will history view the deal first reported by The Bee in this post? A passing political fad or a permanent pension fixture?

Here's the most viewed State Worker item of 2012: Jerry Brown, Democrats reach deal on public pension overhaul.

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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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