When legislators returned from a month-long recess in mid-August, there was speculation that focus would turn toward pension reform since budget battling had been wrapped up. The governor floated a 12-point plan of reforms that didn’t gain much in the way of traction thanks to prolonged budget negotiations and a general lack of consensus between the parties on just about anything. As the current legislative session drew to a close on September 9th, it was clear there wasn’t much momentum behind comprehensive pension reform. All the Assembly could muster was approval of a last-minute bill that essentially vowed the Legislature was committed to the issue (i.e. we care but not enough to do anything about it at the moment). The Bee reports:
“Pension reform, a battle cry at the beginning of the year, steadily lost momentum at the Capitol amid strong opposition from powerful public employee unions bent on preserving much of the status quo. Senate Bill 827 was gutted and amended Wednesday to promise continued study of the issue by both legislative houses. […] SB 827 now goes to the Senate.”
SB 827 states the following: “This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to convene a conference committee to craft responsible, comprehensive legislation to reform state and local pension systems in a manner that reflects both the legitimate needs of public employees and the fiscal circumstances of state and local governments.” Legislators also put Assembly 340 on the backburner so that such bills can be part of a more comprehensive reform effort. Some of the major reforms the governor outlined in his 12-point plan include employers would be prohibited from making employee pension contributions, post-retirement public employment could be limited, and pension spiking would be prohibited.