May 16, 2011 - A proposal to cut off pension benefits to any public employee convicted of a felony arising directly out of his or her professional duties failed to pass out of the California State Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement earlier this month. The committee vote was two in favor (both Republicans) and zero opposed, with all three Democrats declining to vote. Had a single Democrat supported the measure, it would have been approved by the committee at large.
According to a legislative analysis prepared for the May 2 committee hearing, the bill (SB 115) was opposed by a number of powerful public employee unions, such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Professional Firefighters, the California School Employees Association, and AFSCME.
- Interest groups that opposed this bill (Police & fire fighters unions and associations, State & local government employee unions, Teachers unions, etc.) gave $91,850 on average to the Democrats on the committee, more than six times the $14,338 these groups gave on average to the committee's Republicans in the same period.
- Fiscal & tax policy groups supported this bill, giving $7,750 on average to the two Republicans on the committee and no money to any of the three Democrats in the same four year period.
Under SB 115, a public employee would lose their pension for being convicted of any of the following felonies, according to the website of the bill's sponsor, Republican Tony Strickland: accepting, giving, or offering to give a bribe; embezzlement of public money; extortion or theft of public money; tampering with a witness; money laundering; preparation of false documents; or conspiracy to commit any of these crimes. The bill was described as a primary example of Republican-sponsored bills that have failed to move in the Democrat-controlled legislature in an article by George Skelton of the L.A. Times on May 16.
Includes reported contributions to campaigns of senators in office on day of vote, from interest groups invested in the vote according to MapLight, January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2010. California campaign contributions data source: National Institute on Money in State Politics.