No transit subsidy for California, Biden administration rules


In terms of entertaining political news, it’s hard to beat the latest events of the Biden administration. Democrats devour each other as the president’s approval ratings slide into Jimmy Carter’s territory. There’s this video of Vice President Kamala Harris talking about “plan zee” with scientists in Paris — apparently in a false french accent.

Then Thursday the House of Representatives censorship Paul Gosar, a wacky GOP congressman, for circulating “a manipulated video on his social media accounts, picturing himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking … Biden.” It is quite a circus.

Yet arguably the nicest DC of the week story involves a bureaucratic interpretation of an obscure federal law and its intersection with a 2013 California law. It’s a laugh-out-loud argument once you dive into the complex backstory and watch the haphazard reactions of California officials being hoisted on their own firecracker built by the unions.

We just learned that the US Department of Labor has denied California $ 12 billion in public transportation funding, including grants from the recently signed infrastructure bill. The reason? A 1964 federal law requires the Department of Labor to certify that state agencies that apply for public transportation subsidies “protect the interests of all affected employees.” The Fresno Bee reported.

Thus, the Biden administration claims that California – the state that offers its public workers unprecedented wages and retirement benefits, and provides unprecedented collective bargaining rights elsewhere – is in the process of being mean to its “affected” public employees because the state passed a 2013 law, drafted by Democrats, that severely limited pension benefits.

As SFist abstract“Biden is withholding huge sums of federal money from California transit because the state’s public employee pension system apparently isn’t paying people enough. Labor-allied California politicians – facing cutbacks in funds for beloved transit programs – are so angry they seem almost reasonable. Do you see why I am laughing?

For example, Governor Gavin Newsom wrote an artfully written article letter November 10 to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh who canceled funding. In it, he laments that the department’s grant denial decision “is a complete reversal of (the agency’s) final decision in 2019 that California statewide pension reform legislation … “Does not present a barrier to certification”.

The pro-worker governor is furious at the worker-friendly Biden administration for taking a pro-worker stance. Adding to my joy, Newsom favorably cited the previous administration, which, as reported, determined that the pension law does not harm state workers. Yes, Newsom is citing a person appointed by Trump to overthrow his replacement in the Biden administration.

It gets better. Pension reform critic Newsom makes a powerful argument in defense of the 2013 pension reform law, known as the Civil Servants Pension Reform Law: “After several years of litigation, the federal court of review ruled in favor of California three times, and the department did not appeal. The department’s own attorneys noted that the federal court’s rulings were” thoroughly reasoned “… This should close the case.”

As a reminder, Governor Jerry Brown led the charge for PEPRA. The state faced budget deficits and pension costs were crushing local budgets (they still are, in fact). He cut some of the most generous retirement packages for new hires and eliminated bonus pension schemes such as “airtime,” which allows public employees to buy future retirement credits for pennies a year. dollar.

The law did not in any way affect collective bargaining rights. In fact, the main purpose of PEPRA was political. It helped Brown convince the public that he was serious about reforming the budget process – and PEPRA’s shift mellowed. voters enough to pass the Proposition 30 tax hike.

Any reading of Transparent california will show off the mind-blowing compensation packages that California public employees always receive. No other governor or legislature grants such benefits to public employees – and yet the Biden administration is punishing California for a Democrat-sponsored law that imposed only the slightest restriction.

In an act of pride, some California public sector employee unions have taken legal action against PEPRA and claimed that the cancellation of the pension boosting gadgets violated the California rule. There is no real rule, but a series of court interpretations have concluded that governments cannot reduce pensions in the future unless they provide something of equal value.

Admirably, Brown has defended PEPRA in court and made a broader argument to roll back this slanderous rule, which prevents cities from limiting the overly generous pension packages that wipe out their budgets.

Brown pointed to a lower court ruling that public employees are entitled to a reasonable pension– “not an immutable right to the most optional formula for calculating the pension.” California Supreme Court confirmed the pension reform law, but attacked California Rule. That should indeed be the end of the matter, but federal authorities are still concerned about any effort to reform pensions.

I do not regret the potential loss of transit funds given that they tilt strongly towards the climate change file. It’s funny, however, to watch California Democrats get tricked by their own union allies.

This column was first publication in the Orange County Register.


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