Nearing the End of His Term, Gov. Brown Takes a Stand on Pensions

When it comes to pensions, Gov. Jerry Brown has seen the writing on the wall. Or maybe, as Dan Walters writes, he’s just got nothing left to lose. Whatever the case, California’s Democratic governor is bucking the labor unions that helped get him elected and calling for major changes to the underpinnings of the state’s pension system.

Last week, he filed a brief with the California Supreme Court defending key facets of his 2012 pension reform law. In that brief, the governor went further than he’s ever gone before, coming out against the so-called “California Rule” that prevents governments from altering retiree benefits promised at hire.

The shaky legal doctrine is practically sacrosanct among public employee unions. That’s the reason Xavier Becerra and his predecessor Kamala Harris avoided it like the plague. But the fate of pension reform -- and the California rule in particular -- may very well determine Brown’s legacy.

There’s $374 billion of retirement debt at stake, along with the solvency of more than a few local governments. Brown isn’t running again, so what the hell?


Comments