SACRAMENTO - On the final day of the legislative session, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 340, ostensibly putting into place watered down reforms to the public employee retirement system. But the new bill makes only minor changes to the current system, while taking away from many cities and counties the right to make meaningful reforms themselves. Changes like those recently put into place by the cities of San Jose and San Diego could be prohibited by the Democrat-controlled Legislature under this bill.
"I want to support genuine pension reform in the worst way," said Wagner. "Unfortunately, and instead, the ruling party wrote this bill in the worst way. The 'reform' is incredibly modest, the limits to local government are too heavy handed, and, the potential saving are too small, too far in the future, and too dependent on Democrats in a future Legislature keeping their word on this deal. I don't believe that will happen." Wagner added that, because the changes in AB 340 are statutory only and not insulated from Legislative gamesmanship and repeal by putting them into the Constitution, "I am confident the Democrats will renege on this reform sometime in the near future and leave in place only the limits on local reform efforts."
Wagner also objects to the rushed process that created this piece of legislation in the last week of the session, legislation drafted behind closed doors and with virtually no Republican input and with absolutely no meaningful public review and comment. As evidence of this poor process, Wagner pointed to the rushed companion legislation that was created overnight to close a drafting loophole found only the day before passage of AB340 and pointed out in a press article.
"Ten months ago, the governor proposed a modest, 12-point pension reform plan. I co-authored it, thought it represented real reform, was disappointed when the Democrats shelved it, and voted for it this morning when the other Republicans and I made one last procedural effort to get the governor the hearing his plan deserved. Sadly, though, that effort failed on a party line vote."
"The idea behind pension reform is laudable and completely necessary during these bleak financial times," Wagner said. "However, I believe my colleagues across the aisle missed an opportunity to enact real reforms. The Republicans actually stood with the governor, because he was right, so that we could go forward with bipartisan reform. But in the end, we were ignored and excluded from any discussions," concluded Wagner.
Assembly Member Wagner represents the 70th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the Orange County communities of Irvine, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Tustin and surrounding areas.