California Supreme Court Negligently Sidesteps Important Issue to Block Meaningful Pension Reform Leaving Taxpayers Facing Billions in Unfunded Pension Debt
In a widely-anticipated ruling on whether lavish and unsustainable pension benefits for state and local government employees can be reformed or reduced, the California Supreme Court punted the entire issue yet again.
“We’re disappointed that the liberal California Supreme Court once again is serving as a barrier to common-sense reform of unsustainable and indefensible gold-plated government pension payouts,” said Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California.
In the narrow ruling that upheld the elimination of the right to purchase service credits to spike pensions, the justices opted to leave the problematic “California Rule” intact that has been a legal barrier to meaningful reform to unsustainable pension benefits. Specifically the Supreme Court ruling said “We have no occasion in this decision to address, let alone to alter, the continued application of the California Rule,” the court said in the decision. The California Rule has been used repeatedly by politicians and government union bosses to block pension reform.
DeMaio is author of the San Diego Pension Reform Initiative that overwhelmingly passed in 2012 to switch city employees from defined benefit pensions to 401(k) defined contribution accounts. DeMaio is working with a bipartisan coalition to enact statewide pension reform.
A recent study by Stanford University suggests that unfunded debt for California state and local pension and retiree healthcare obligations stands at over $1 trillion. The state’s own official estimates using flawed accounting rules puts the liability at nearly half-a-trillion dollars and rising.
In addition to the debt burden placed on taxpayers, an examination of individual pension payouts to state and local government employees shows extreme abuses in the system resulting in six-figure pensions, million-dollar lump-sum payouts, and hundreds of thousands of retired state and local government officials taking in annual pension allowances that exceed their highest base salaries while working for government.
“These government pension abuses must be reformed or California taxpayers will face a future of higher taxes, fewer services, and bankruptcy in our cities and school districts,” DeMaio concluded.
“This proves exactly what we warned everyone about during the Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign”
In releasing his proposed California state budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom included a proposal to hold back SB1 Gas Tax funds from cities unless they agree to change various housing policies. If Newsom’s proposal is enacted, taxpayers will be forced to pay the higher gas tax rates without receiving the benefit for road repairs.
“Is anyone surprised that only a few months after defeating Prop 6 that Sacramento politicians are threatening to divert our gas tax funds? This outrageous threat shows that Sacramento politicians simply cannot trusted with our gas tax funds and they are not interested in fixing our roads,” said Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California.
DeMaio and Reform California led Yes on 6 – the Gas Tax Repeal campaign during the 2018 election cycle, activating an army of over 30,000 volunteers who helped collect nearly 1 million signatures to qualify Prop 6 to get it on the Nov 6 ballot, and who later helped the proposition earn 45% of the vote despite the campaign being outspent 22-to-1.
Typical Employee Who Terminates Union Dues Will Save $800 Per Year – and Massive Levels of Termination Will Transform California Politics
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (the Janus Decision) has given government employees the right to terminate their membership in government unions and prohibit unions from taking money out of their paychecks. Unfortunately, many government employees are unaware of their rights. Even worse, many union bosses are illegally denying requests from workers who want to discontinue their union dues and keep their money.
“We have heard from hundreds of government employees in San Diego county that want out of their union and want to keep their money, but the union bosses have illegally denied them their rights. That is completely unacceptable and illegal – and this campaign will give government employees the information, the vehicle and the legal support to fight back and keep their money,” said Carl DeMaio, Chairman, Reform California
The average government employee could save an average of $800 a year – with some saving as much as $1400 a year.
More importantly, if a sizable chunk of union members discontinue paying dues, California politicians will take a big hit in their campaign coffers as government unions will have less money to spend on campaign contributions to candidates who support higher taxes and bigger government.
“Government employees could use extra take-home pay, but the government unions have forced them to pay dues every month and have given them little value in return,” said Mark Bucher, Chief Executive Officer of the California Policy Center
A bold pilot campaign is being launched in San Diego county by Reform California in partnership with California Policy Center. The campaign has three components:
- Outreach and Canvassing at Government Agencies: Using emails, advertisements, and tabling in front of government agencies, the campaign will advise state and local government employees that they have a right to terminate paying union dues.
- A Simple Rebate Form: The campaign has worked with attorneys to devise a simple “Rebate Form” that any state or local government employee can sign to exercise their rights to leave the union. That form is online at UnionDuesRebate.org
- Pro-bono Legal Representation: The campaign is supported by pro-bono attorneys who are prepared to help individuals and classes of workers protect and assert their rights to terminate paying union dues.
The campaign is being piloted in San Diego County over the next two months – and if successful – will be expanded statewide.
Pattern Emerges of Grossly Misleading Titles Being Placed on Ballot Measures Opposed by State Politicians
In 1911 California voters secured a Constitutional Right to use “Citizen Initiatives” to place items on the ballot to impose reform on their politicians. Today the state politicians have found a way to strip citizens of that precious right through pure deception. Read More
With the election just weeks away, the Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign hit the road with a massive 45-foot bus wrapped in its campaign colors to hold “Rush Hour Rallies” with several thousand supporters at each stop along the tour. Motorists will receive free Yes on 6 Lawn Signs and materials as they drive by, and the Yes on Prop 6 campaign will hold a press conference with local elected officials and candidates to make the case for repealing the gas tax. Read More
Road Signs Promoting SB1 Gas Tax Hike Cost $6,528 Each! A $227k bus driver and hundreds of other bus drivers earning $100,000 or more! 30% of road maintenance funds diverted to homeless cleanups! $50,000 for one conference table… Read More
California neglected maintenance of its highway and road network for decades. But last year, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown finally enacted a stiff increase in gas taxes and automotive fees to catch up, even though polls indicated that most Californians didn’t want to pay more. Read More
Constitutional Amendment Will Provide $7.9 Billion More to Fix Roads & Fund Infrastructure Once Voters Approve Prop 6
Leaders of the Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign revealed a bold plan to fix California’s roads and improve infrastructure – all without a tax hike – and officially filed a statewide Ballot Measure to amend the state Constitution. Read More
Data suggests lower-income families will be hardest hit by regressive gas/car tax hikes that Prop 6 would repeal
A new report released by the California Policy Center entitled “The Grinch that Stole Christmas – The True Impact of Gas and Car Taxes,” shows a massive cost-of-living impact to working families in the region.
Yes on Prop 6 Campaign Files Ethics Complaint with Three Law Enforcement Agencies
Traffic was delayed 18-24 minutes and motorists were furious with the clear violation of state law in using taxpayer monies to campaign.
Photos, video, and witness testimony of the incident was released at a press conference along with a Criminal Complaint alleging violation of numerous state and local laws. The campaign flier passed out clearly contains prohibited “express advocacy” language such as “Vote NO on Prop 6” and the Caltrans work crew member is caught on video admitting he was “working with Caltrans” and “They just told me to hand it out.” Read More