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Schwarzenegger: Republicans Blocked Pension Reform

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Governor Schwarzenegger was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“Hello, this is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with another California Report.

Last week I talked to you about the historic pension reforms that were included in our state budget agreement.

They roll back the massive benefit increases the legislature approved in 1999.

They require state workers to contribute more toward their pensions.

They end the outrageous practice of pension spiking.

They require disclosure from the pension fund that hid hundreds of billions of dollars of pension debt.

Altogether, our reforms will save $100 billion in the decades to come.

They also pave the way for local governments to follow suit because pension reform is necessary at every level of government.

In fact, in San Jose and San Francisco there are initiatives on the ballot that include many of the same reforms we just passed.

Those will be tough fights.

If there is one thing I have learned over the last seven years it is that real reform is very difficult when you are up against the special interests.

In fact, let me tell a quick story about just how tough it was to get our reforms approved in the legislature.

In this pension reform battle I expected organized labor to oppose me.

And since most Democrats are in bed with labor I expected them to oppose me too.

I knew that.

But what I was surprised to see was Republicans also in bed with the same unions, only hidden under the sheets.

Let me explain.

Last week, I was sitting in my office watching the budget votes at two in the morning.

I saw the education bill pass 27-8.

Then the transportation bill 28-2.

Then the health and human services bill passed, and so on.

But the pension reform bill, one of the most important ingredients to our fiscal reforms, was stuck.

It could not get enough votes.

A staff member came in and told me, “our pension reform bill is stalled because we are short Republican votes.”

“You mean Democratic votes,” I corrected him.

“No,” he replied. “We are short Republican votes.”

The group who rails against government spending?

The group who preaches fiscal responsibility?

The group who accuses its opponents of being controlled by public employee unions?

Those Republicans?

It was true.

A group of Republicans, including Senators Blakeslee and Dutton and Assemblymen Jeffries and Cook, sought to block these reforms.

They held eloquent speeches on the floor saying “this is terrible. We can’t hurt the CCPOA, the prison guard union. This is unfair to them.”

Eventually we found a way around this blockade by calling a special session of the legislature, which required by the way a trip to Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s house at three in the morning, knocking on her door and getting a signature from her.

This allowed us to pass the bill with a simple majority vote, instead of the 2/3 vote.

By the way, we got all the Democratic votes that we expected.

Except, like I said, there was this hang-up with the Republicans.

Now here is the most amazing part.

After the pension reforms were passed, some Republicans, including Assemblymen Miller and Logue, changed their vote so the official record would not reflect their opposition.

Not only did they try to block reform, but then they did not even have the courage to publicly stand behind their action.

They were worried that when they went back to their districts people would find out they sided with labor rather than with the taxpayers.

Let’s not forget that we are talking about savings to the taxpayers of $100 billion over the next few decades.

That is sad.

Maybe these Republicans sold out simply because they got campaign contributions from the state prison guards union.

I don’t know.

You figure it out.

I checked the record, and altogether the legislators, I just mentioned, have accepted more than $75,000 in contributions from that union.


Now normally you get $1,000 or $500 or a $2,000 contribution.

But $75,000?

Why did they give them all this money?

Maybe to fight against the pension reforms.

Maybe. You figure it out.

Thank you for watching, and thank you for listening.”

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.

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