While the Pension Reform Act of 2014 proposal would end reliable, fixed-benefit retirement plans for public employees, the Act clearly looks like a lucrative retirement plan at taxpayer expense for those who are proposing the Act.
If the Act were to pass, Section 9 of the Act enables the proponents of the Act to collect — at taxpayer expense — all legal and related costs of defending the Act if it is challenged and the state declines to defend it in the courts.
And the Act would of course be challenged because even though the Act changes Article 1, Section 9 of the California Constitution, California’s Section 9 is nearly verbatim from Section 10, Clause 1 of Article 1 of the United States Constitution, making the language of the Act unconstitutional vis-à-vis our federal Constitution. Because our federal Constitution trumps the state constitution, the state would decline a futile effort to defend the Act, thereby allowing the proponents of the Act to jump in and defend it in a long and costly series of court battles filled with many costly motions — and to send all their the inflated legal and “related” costs to the state for taxpayers to pay.
Because the Act is so clearly unconstitutional, the Act looks like a scheme by its proponents to get rich from fat fees they would collect during a long and costly battle through the courts, all the while with the Act unenforceable because of the clearly prevailing challenge to its federal constitutionality. Looks like a cool scheme not only for personal enrichment at taxpayer expense, but a scheme to amass funds for further battles against public employees.
The Act should be renamed: The Retirement Plan at Taxpayer Expense for Pension Bashers Act of 2014.
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Steven Maviglio is the Principal of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based public affairs/campaign firm.