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Lawmakers talk pensions, lawsuits at CNPA day

Newspaper leaders from throughout the state gather for annual event
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Editor
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State leaders sounded off on pensions, redevelopment and whether the controller has the right to withhold legislature pay at a gathering Wednesday of newspaper leaders. The California Newspaper Publishers Association hosted its 15th annual Governmental Affairs Day in Sacramento. The non-profit association represents daily and weekly newspapers throughout the state. About 100 publishers, editors, presidents, writers and journalism students attended the event. The day’s featured speakers included Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Visalia), Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and State Controller John Chiang. Perez said citizens will see the legislature addressing the housing crises in the next few months. “That single issue is stopping the economy from recovering,” Perez said. He also said to expect “decisive action on the pension system this year.” Perez also noted the lawsuit he and Steinberg worked together to file against the state controller. The lawsuit challenges the controller’s ability to halt legislator’s pay. Last summer, Chiang said he withheld lawmaker’s pay because the budget was vetoed and not balanced. Chiang cited a voter-approved proposition to hold pay for senate and house representatives if they fail to pass a budget on time. Perez said the lawsuit is “squarely an issue of separation of powers.” “It’s about correcting a destabilizing precedent for the folks that come after us,” Perez added. Chiang appeared a few hours after Perez and addressed the issue when asked by a student journalist in the crowd. The elected controller said it’s a question of how do you enforce the voter’s will. He said lawmakers did not pass two different legal standards to meet a balanced budget by deadline and therefore there should be no appropriations. Bill Brehm Jr., president of Brehm Communications, Inc., which owns the Auburn Journal, asked Chiang the cost of the lawsuit to the state of California and how long it would take to resolve. Chiang said he could not predict how long or how expensive litigation would be. “Hopefully the people involved can narrow the issues and come to an agreement,” Chiang said. Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com