The California Legislature is in its now usual race against the clock, facing the end of the session on Friday, August 31 at midnight. This is a situation that every year begs the question of why the process to approve laws can’t be made more orderly and transparent.
Estimates show that hundreds of bills are being decided in the last days of a two-year legislative session. Many are set aside and die a natural death, which fortunately happened with the bill to reform the California Environmental Quality Act, while others continue on their way to being signed by the governor. Usually, the most important bills are left until the end, and there lies the problem.
In this case, the public pension reform is what was left to be negotiated behind the scenes, and its details were only released yesterday.
This issue has been under discussion for more than a year, since Gov. Jerry Brown expressed interest in finding a solution to the problem of having $150 billion in unfunded liabilities to the two main public employee pension funds.
As a consequence of this process, this bill does not address the fundamental problem and instead mainly focuses on future employees. If it passes, the bill will meet the political purpose of having a pension reform to convince voters in November that other steps have been taken to control the deficit, in addition to asking them to approve tax hikes. And not much beyond that.
We think the legislative 11th-hour race is not a transparent way to write laws. It is possible that political realities make it easier to handle the most controversial bills like this, especially when there are differences between the legislative group and its allies-which is the case for the Democrats and the unions-but that does not mean this is the right thing to do.
The confidence Californians have in their legislature cannot be recovered without an orderly, open and transparent process.