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Reforms inspired by Bell salary scandal stalled in Sacramento

October 3, 2010 | 11:41 am

Court

The Legislature's plans to limit the pay of local government officials in California may be dead for the year, after the governor vetoed a key bill inspired by the scandal in the city of Bell.

But some variation of lawmakers' proposals to rein in excessive pensions still stands a chance of becoming law this year, even though the governor also rejected those measures

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he rejected the bills because they were piecemeal and did not go far enough.

"The scandal with the city of Bell was a disgraceful use of public funds," Schwarzenegger wrote in one veto message. But, he added, "I encourage the Legislature to enact thoughtful and meaningful solutions rather than a rushed proposal that is severely limited in its application."

One measure would have banned employment contracts guaranteeing city managers annual salary increases that exceed the cost of living. Schwarzenegger said the ban should apply to a much larger segment of the local government workforce than just city managers, including workers represented by unions.

With the regular lawmaking session wrapped up for the year, it is unlikely that issue will be revisited before Schwarzenegger leaves office in a few months.

But there is still an opportunity to revive some elements of a pension overhaul, even though the governor vetoed a bill he said would make only a "small dent" in the state's pension problems. That legislation would have set a cap of 125% of the governor's pay on the salary used to calculate the pension of any government official.

Read the full story here.

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: Former and current Bell officials, from left, Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia, Victor Bello and Oscar Hernandez appear in L.A. County Superior Court last month. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times 

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