Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won a vote to keep his job on Tuesday, surviving a recall effort that turned the Republican into a conservative icon and his state into the first battleground in a bitter, expensive election year.
Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). That made Walker the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election; two others had failed.
Exit polls showed that Democrats had captured nearly 69 percent of the voters who made up their minds in the past few days. But it wasn’t enough.
Instead, the night provided a huge boost for Walker — as well as Republicans in Washington and state capitals who have embraced the same energetic, austere brand of fiscal conservatism as a solution for recession and debt. In a state known for a strong progressive tradition, Walker defended his policies against the full force of the labor movement and the modern left.
San Jose voters Tuesday handed Mayor Chuck Reed a crucial victory with his nationally watched pension reform measure passing by a decisive margin.It was a big night for pension reform, with a San Diego measure also winning by a wide margin. City employee unions who argued the measures are illegal were expected to challenge both in court.
But voter approval of San Jose's Measure B puts Reed and the city in the vanguard of efforts to shrink taxpayer bills for generous government pension plans. Passage also strengthen's Reed's hand as he and his City Council allies work to enact the measure's reforms with a vote next week to reduce pensions for new hires.
Like his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown moved to trim state worker salaries Monday as a way to help cut a ballooning budget deficit.
Although many of the details still need to be hammered out with the unions, Brown proposed that workers lose a day's pay each month in a move that evoked memories of furlough days under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Under Brown's plan, state workers would switch to a four-day workweek, working 9.5 hours a day, or 38 hours a week, instead of the current five-day, 40-hour workweek. The change would cut workers' pay by 5 percent, saving the state $401 million in general fund costs.
Administration officials said they also expect to save money by closing buildings one day a week.
For weeks, the Brown administration has been talking to labor leaders about wringing savings from payroll. Brown did not say Monday whether union leaders had specifically suggested the shorter workweek but did say those discussions were considered in shaping the policy.
The line at CalPERS' customer service window is getting longer.
After converting to a half-billion-dollar computer system to process benefits for hundreds of thousands of California public agency retirees last September, backlogs for some services are worse than before the project launched.
The new hardware and software installed by New York-based tech firm Accenture aimed to consolidate 49 old data systems into one when it launched last September, two years late at nearly twice its original $279 million budget. The California Public Employees' Retirement System committed another $6.8 million in December, bringing the total cost to $514 million. The money has come from CalPERS assets, currently valued at $234 billion.
Meanwhile, fund members have complained that a system intended to speed up service and boost efficiency has done the opposite.
SANTA ROSA — A two-house legislative committee is working with Gov. Brown’s Department of Finance on a ‘hybrid’ retirement plan for new state and local government hires, a committee member told a forum here last week.
Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, twice referred to a “cash balance” plan while talking about a cost-cutting hybrid, proposed by Brown, that combines a lower pension with a 401(k)-style individual investment plan.
A new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office provides additional insight into the challenges facing not only California’s pension system, but also public pensions across the country.
When the city manager of troubled Stockton, Calif., had to tell city council members why it was on track to become the biggest American city yet to go bankrupt, it took hours to get through the list.
There was the free health care for retirees, the unpaid parking tickets, the revenue bonds without enough revenue to pay them. On it went, a grim drumbeat of practically every fiscal malady imaginable, except an obvious one: municipal pensions. Stockton is spending some $30 million a year to pay for them, but it has less than 70 cents set aside for every dollar of benefits its workers expect.
The cause of pension reform in California took a significant body shot Wednesday when a group hoping to put an overhaul measure before voters this year suspended its campaign.
Beleaguered by fundraising problems and questions about the viability of its proposals, California Pension Reform shut down its efforts. The group's officials blamed the demise on a "false and misleading" summary of the plan by Attorney General Kamala Harris, a charge the Democrat denied.
The death of California Pension Reform's efforts also wounded Gov. Jerry Brown's pension proposals to the Democratic-controlled Legislature, one analyst said, by removing the threat of a more draconian measure going before voters.
Health benefits for government retirees may not be eliminated if state and local governments had clearly promised workers those benefits, the California Supreme Court ruled in an Orange County case Monday. [Read More...]
Approximately half of California workers will retire in or near poverty, according to a study published Monday by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. [Read More...]