As the state Legislature enters the final weeks of the 2012 session, the eyes of the state’s leading business associations are firmly on Sacramento for any signs of watered down pension reform legislation. The Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group have built a coalition of the state’s largest and most influential business groups to keep the heat on the Legislature to produce meaningful pension reform this year. The coalition supports a 12-point plan advanced last year by Gov. Jerry Brown to control unsustainable pension costs, which have been cited as a leading cause in several recent municipal bankruptcies in Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes. Pension costs are among the fastest growing component of municipal spending and are forcing many cities to reduce or eliminate vital public services to meet their obligations. The total cost of promised pension benefits could be as high as $700 billion. Fearful that the Governor’s plan would upset certain special interests, a legislative committee late this spring began working behind closed doors to craft an alternative plan that we suspect will fail to produce the comprehensive reform necessary to get the pension system on a more sustainable track. In response, the Council, Leadership Group and our coalition partners are launching an aggressive advocacy campaign exhorting the Legislature to approve the Governor’s plan this year, something that voters have strongly indicated they want. In a series of opinion-editorial articles, including one co-authored by Council CEO Jim Wunderman and Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino that appeared in the Sacramento Bee (Meaningful Pension Reform Needed Now), coalition partners are reminding legislators to embrace the Governor’s plan and approve it this year. To participate in our pension reform work, which is among the Council’s lead priorities, contact Matt Regan.

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