A state Senate committee today nixed a provision in proposed legislation that would’ve cleared the way for county pension boards to pay employees whatever they wanted.

By an 11-0 vote, the Senate’s appropriations committee removed language from Assembly Bill 1987 that would’ve allowed pension boards to become special districts with the power to sidestep county salary limits.

The legislation had emerged as a potential route for the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association to pay its employees whatever it wanted — a step its CEO, Brian White, says is necessary to attract qualified candidates.

White gave legislators a glimpse of what could happen if that power was granted. He had proposed creating four positions at SDCERA that could earn $450,000 annually in base pay and bonuses and another 13 jobs that could pay $300,000 annually including bonuses. White’s plan described a consultant, Lee Partridge, as a public employee making as much as $886,000 annually with bonuses.

No county employee today makes more than $274,000 a year.

County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price had urged state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, the appropriations chairwoman, to oppose the push for pension board independence. Jacob, who sits on the county pension board, praised Kehoe in a statement.

“Senator Kehoe deserves a lot of credit for putting a swift end to what could have been a dangerous, costly mistake,” she said in the statement. “Recent actions by the County’s pension board are reminders that all public pensions need tough controls to keep salaries and other expenditures in check.”

— ROB DAVIS

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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