From the President

December 17, 2012

Wrapping up 2012, we saw a year that brought SCOPO more new member organizations, two important bills that we advocated for in the legislature and a raised profile for SCOPO. Let’s also not forget that we, along with allied organizations, were able to get Propositions 30 and 35 passed; while defeating Proposition 32! Proposition 32 would have been the most damaging to us and labor across the state. Even though the future looks a little brighter, be ever vigilant for renewed attempts to attack labor unions’ strength. We have no further to look than the State of Michigan. Just last week, their legislature passed a bill turning Michigan into a Right-to-Work state. Their governor all but assured its signing, even before its passage in the legislature. We can never take for granted the gains that we’ve made over the decades. Educate your members about their history and prepare them for the future.

Even though 2013 is a non-election year, we are going to find many challenges ahead of us. We plan to introduce several bills in the legislature, while fighting to keep SB 678 (2009) funds intact for departments throughout the state. We are also mindful that our institutions will continue to face challenges; including balancing their populations of Direct File and local commitment wards, on top of their already demanding duties. Oh, and then there’s realignment. In the first year of realignment, departments were tasked with supervising bigger than projected numbers of offenders, while having to fight over the amount of money they would be receiving. Even though in some counties, criminal justice partners were able to reach agreement on how to equitably distribute realignment monies, the same couldn’t be said for others. There were many examples of different Sheriff’s departments throughout the state gaining the lion’s share of the money, with little recourse for the rehabilitative side of realignment. Time will tell if realignment will work as planned, but in the meantime more money spent on local detention means less money being spent on rehabilitation within the community; which is contrary to the vision of those who crafted the shift from incarceration to rehabilitation. The die may already be cast. Heaven help us all.

Last but not least, is AB 340/197. Even though the bulk of both bills will affect new employees only, the most costly piece will be the part that requires employees to pick up 50% of their “normal cost” towards their retirement. CalPERS has weighed in and provided a number that comes in around 12%, while several ’37 Act retirement systems seem to be pointing to a number closer to 33%. A final agreement on the legislation’s finer points is still pending, with at least two court actions filed to prevent certain parts of the legislation from taking effect on January 1, 2013. Both pieces of legislation, along with clean-up bills that have been and will be introduced will have an impact on retirement systems in the state and for California’s workers for years to come.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President