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Commentary: Rich Pensions Drive Bad Bankruptcy Bill

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Assembly bill 155 is one of the worst of this legislative session. Sponsored by the California Professional Fire fighters, a union whose member are among the highest paid government workers in the country, the bill seeks to make it harder for local governments to declare bankruptcy, and by so doing set aside rich labor deals.
 With this measure, public employees are out to protect bloated contracts that cities, counties and special districts approved in good times, that in these tough times they can no longer afford. Contracts like the one at the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, where 80 percent of the employees earn more than $100,000 a year, and where the fire chief recently retired with a pension of close to a quarter of a million dollars annually.
The bill would force local governments to have their bankruptcy petitions reviewed by a politically stacked, labor-friendly panel in the Treasurer's office before they could seek federal bankruptcy protection.
This week the bill was placed on the inactive file – a sign it did not garner enough votes to pass in the senate. But bad bills have been known to come back when no one is paying attention. If AB 155 ever makes it to the governor’s desk, it deserves a swift and decisive veto.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.
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