CalPERS board members and officials are concerned that the California Legislature will try to push though a pension reform bill when it reconvenes on Aug. 6, leaving little time to analyze changes that would affect the $229.8 billion retirement system and other pension systems in the state.
“If the language of a bill is not right, it could have unintended consequences,” J.J. Jelincic, board member for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, said in a telephone interview Friday.
Anne Stausboll CalPERS CEO, said at the retirement system's board retreat meeting Wednesday in Petaluma, Calif., that it was possible a joint legislative committee charged with preparing a reform bill could release a proposal and pass it within as little as six hours.
Under California state law, the Senate and the Assembly could take up the legislation within two days of the conference committee vote.
Board members Wednesday said they want to call a special meeting to discuss the bill once it is released from the conference committee but are concerned they might not have time because of the expected rushed legislative process.
Ms. Stausboll said the very minimum, CalPERS officials will give the board its analysis of the bill.
The Legislature went on summer break in early July without reaching an agreement on legislation regarding Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s reform plan, which calls for creating a hybrid plan for new employees.
Negotiations between legislators and Mr. Brown's aides have continued since then but with little progress, say sources who have knowledge of the debate. Mr. Brown has refused to budge from his proposal, while Democratic lawmakers, who control both the Assembly and the Senate, are pushing for a cash balance plan for new employees who earn more than $108,000 a year. The employees would keep their DB benefits up to that level.
Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Darrell Steinberg, California Senate president pro tem, said in an e-mail that it's “unlikely” that there would only be a six-hour window between the introduction of the bill by the conference committee and its passage by the committee.
“Regardless, there has been over nine months of discussion by the Legislature on this comprehensive package of pension reform, enabling the Senate to be in a good position to pass meaningful reform during the final month of session,” he said.
A call to Mr. Brown's press office was not returned by press time.
Sources said the Legislature is concerned that if the bill is not passed quickly once it is released, debate between different interest groups will kill any chance of passage.
Mr. Brown's plan would affect CalPERS, the $146.8 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, and various county retirement systems.