By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
The Legislature reconvenes this week for what promises to be a typically hectic end-of-session maelstrom of power politics, horse-trading and deal-making – all in the guise of serving the public good, of course.
Hundreds of bills are still pending from a session that began 20 months ago. How many reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk – and more important, what they will contain – by Aug. 31 is anyone’s guess.
It’s an election year, and the attendant jitters are more pronounced than usual because it’s the first cycle following the redrawing of 120 Assembly and Senate districts by an independent commission. That means some lawmakers are uncertain whether they can win re-election or move up to other offices.
As they deal with lobbyists working both sides of the pending bills during the day, they will be staging fundraising soirees during the evening hours, hoping to draw big checks from the lobbyists’ employers.
Adding even more drama – or uncertainty – is that voters will also decide in November whether to raise sales and income taxes to bring the state budget into some kind of equilibrium.
With approval of Brown’s tax plan no better than a 50-50 proposition, what happens in the Capitol this month could play a decisive role – particularly what happens, or doesn’t happen, to his 12-point public pension reform plan.
Brown has repeatedly warned legislators that failure to reform pensions would sour voters on new taxes, a view underscored in June when voters in San Jose and San Diego overwhelmingly endorsed local reforms.
Just before the Legislature broke for a monthlong summer recess, Brown rejected a pension proposal from Democratic legislative leaders, who are joined at the political hip with public employee unions.
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