California state legislators haven't found the time to enact significant pension reform in the Golden State, but that didn't stop them from serving up another big expensive union giveaway, this time on death benefits to the families of public safety workers. California already has one of the most generous of death-benefits systems, allowing the family of a public safety officer who dies of a heart attack, cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis or any bloodborne disease to collect service-related death benefits on the presumption that death from any of these causes is job-related. Now the legislature has gone one big step further, voting to eliminate the statute of limitations on such deaths so that the family of a firefighter who retires at 55 but dies of cancer or heart attack at 75 can claim his death was job related and collect benefits between $250,000 and $300,000.
As is often the case with such legislation, the state won't have to pay the bill, local municipalities that employee these workers will, even though more municipalities in the state are at risk of bankruptcy after three of them filed for Chapter 9 in recent weeks. You can tell it's an election year in California by the vote: The bill was heavily backed by Democrats, but all but four Republicans in the state Assembly also voted for the legislation.