In final week, Legislature still must grapple with pension overhaul
State lawmakers enter the final week of their legislative session facing hundreds of bills, including controversial proposals to overhaul California's overburdened public pension system, revamp its costly workers' compensation program and change the way corporate taxes are assessed.
As detailed in Monday's Times, legislative leaders are hoping to convince voters that they are responsible stewards of taxpayer money -- and turn the page on an embarrassing budget scandal within the parks department and a bevy of legislative pay raises.
All eyes will be on efforts to make big changes to the state's public pension system.Gov. Jerry Brown has pushed lawmakers to remake the state pension system, but the Democrats who dominate the Legislature have been reluctant to adopt key parts of the 12-point plan he proposed last year. Brown wants to raise the retirement age for most new public workers from 55 to 67 and adopt a hybrid 401(k)-style benefit plan for new hires.
Lawmakers are expected to debate a modified proposal that tackles abuses such as pension "spiking" but permits retirement earlier than 67. They have also been discussing a possible cap of about $100,000 on how much public employees can receive from a state pension plan, with workers having the option of also paying into a cash balance plan that would guarantee a specified rate of return.
The Legislature will also take up other controversial measures in the final days of its two-year session, including a bill that would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who are granted work permits under a new Obama administration program.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) answer questions at a news conference in 2011. Credit: Associated Press /Rich Pedroncelli