Expensive Pension and Release Time Bills Pass Committees
June 28, 2019
Two bills that would increase costs for counties passed out of their respective policy committees this week.
CSAC and its local government partners have been strongly opposed to Assembly Bill 314 (Bonta). Counties remain fundamentally concerned about the erosion of the collective bargaining process, including the provisions regarding employee orientation release time and the expansion of terms used to establish eligible activities under release time.
AB 314 would unwind a carefully crafted and recently enacted agreement by requiring employers to give release time to employees who serve as the exclusive representative at new employee orientations. This bill most recently passed out of Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. It now heads to Senate Appropriations Committee.
CSAC is also opposed to Senate Bill 266, which passed out of Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee this week. Under SB 266, in the case of a retiree that received a disallowed benefit, the employer would be required to pay the disallowed benefit to the retiree from its own funds indefinitely – even if CalPERS has previously determined that the benefit was allowable.
Public agencies cannot continue to make payments to retirees as proposed by SB 266 for the same legal basis that requires pension systems to recoup their disallowed retirement benefit payments to retirees. Continued payment of a disallowed benefit to a retiree would constitute a gift of public funds, in violation of the California Constitution. Moreover, this bill would provide only means for employers to avoid the risk of potentially crushing liability will be to limit the types of compensation offered to those items whose pensionability is beyond question (i.e., base salary) – an undesirable result for all concerned. While intended to benefit individual employees, this bill would undoubtedly have a negative impact on entire employee groups, as well as employers.
For the above reasons, CSAC remains opposed to this bill as well. It now heads to Assembly Appropriations Committee.