10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, May 30, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – State legislators representing central Riverside and San Bernardino counties have received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign help from unions representing government workers.

The donations have gone to members of both parties, with labor-friendly Democrats receiving the heaviest support.

Republicans, who represent the bulk of the region, also have received donations, mainly from unions representing police, correctional officers and other public-safety workers.

Labor has always been a major part of the Sacramento agenda.

In recent months, budget cuts and pension fund investment losses have made public-employee compensation a significant issue, with lawmakers disagreeing on what should be done.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will refuse to sign any state budget that does not change the state’s pension system.

Schwarzenegger backs a pension-overhaul bill by Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta.

It would reduce retirement benefits for new state employees.

Few expect the bill to pass the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Hollingsworth has received less than $20,000 in donations from government unions since his legislative career began in 2000.

At the other end of union campaign cash is state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino.

Negrete McLeod has collected at least $440,000 from public-sector unions since 2000.

Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, has received at least $116,000 in public union donations since 2005, the most among Inland Republicans.

The contributions are only one part of the unions’ political influence.

INDEPENDENT GROUPS

Some Inland lawmakers have benefited — or been targeted by — independent campaigns financed by the unions.

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