Despite AB 2429's ability to save millions of dollars by decreasing benefit abuses and membership for local elected officials, the bill was referred to interim study without a vote or proper consideration.
Sacramento - Assemblyman Curt Hagman's AB 2429 prohibited part-time local elected officials from government benefits eligibility, including pensions, health insurance, and tax payer funded allowances for cars or home offices. While the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee seemed to support the concepts it contained generally, they referred it, along with similar republican bills, to the Pension Reform Conference Committee without taking it up for an actual vote.
Our benefit systems are largely underfunded and largely abused. Assembly Bill 2429 is similar to a proposed initiative which the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance estimated could reduce local costs in the range of tens of millions of dollars a year. In addition to easing existing local benefit liabilities, especially in a time where many local governments are facing bankruptcy, AB 2429 would also have increased transparency and prevented benefit abuses. These abuses, including pension spiking and double-dipping, typically occur at this part-time local elected level, as those in such positions switch jobs and change office often.
Testifying on behalf of the bill and taxpayers throughout the state, David Wolfe, Legislative Director for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, stated, "Voters are angry"; when one million people in the state have been out of work for over a year, part-time office holders continue to receive outlandish benefits sometimes up to $21,000 a member per year. Mr. Wolfe continued that disregarding these facts shows elected officials as being tone deaf to the very real political and fiscal issues the state is facing, adding that we must restore government accountability and responsibility while sincerely attempting to address these pressing liabilities.
"Public safety and education should not be continuously cut to the detriment of our state in order to pump more money into inflating politician benefits," said Assemblyman Hagman, "While my colleagues on the Committee simply pushed AB 2429 aside, I hope they truly address the solutions my bill could have had if been given appropriate action."