California's Fiscal Crisis: Prospects for Deficit Reduction and Pension Reform in the Golden State

September 21, 2012 - 8:30am to 6:30pm
Available multimedia: 
Event has video

The conference will bring together leading experts and public officials to explore the fiscal crisis confronting California’s state and local governments. Topics covered include: the evolving state-local fiscal relationship, an analysis of restructuring proposals for local finance, reforming state and local public pensions, case studies from the field in California and elsewhere, and the political aspects of achieving such reforms.

8:30-9:00 am Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:15 am Welcome and Introductory Remarks

9:15-10:30 am Panel I, Overview of California's Fiscal Crisis: How Bad Is It?

This panel examines California’s fiscal crisis at the state and local levels. After providing an overview of the fiscal crisis confronting California, the panel focuses on a number of issues: Which cities in California are struggling the most and why? Are Vallejo, Stockton, and San Bernardino the edge of a tide of bankruptcies? How does California’s financial condition compare to other states? How much of California’s fiscal stress is caused by cyclical factors as compared to structural factors?

Moderator: Max Neiman (Senior Resident Scholar, Institute of Government Studies, UC Berkeley)

Panel Participants:

  • Peter Detwiler (former head consultant, California Senate Finance Committee)
  • Michael Coleman (Principal fiscal policy advisor to the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers and to the League of California Cities)
  • Tracy Gordon (Fellow, Brookings Institution)
  • Scott D. Pattison (Executive Director, National Association of State Budget Officers)

10:30-10:45 am Refreshment break

10:45-12:00 pm Panel II, The Basics of Restructuring: Alternative Paths to Reform

This panel will examine the political and financial contexts within which communities address fiscal stress. Although the options are quite large, the panel will explore a number of questions. How does the initiative process shape incentives and options for managing fiscal stress and related issues? What happens when a city falls behind in its responsibilities to provide timely financial reports and budgets? What constitutes insolvency? Why was AB506 adopted and how has it shifted the rules of the game in managing fiscal stress? Is municipal bankruptcy really so terrible? What kinds of deals can localities strike with their creditors and contractors to reduce the magnitude of debt burdens and fiscal stress? Is it possible to restructure local finances without succumbing to bankruptcy?

Moderator: Professor Margaret Weir (Professor, Political Science and Sociology, UC Berkeley)

Panel Participants:

  • Duf Sundheim (Former Chair, California Republican Party)
  • Natasha Karl (Legislative Representative, California League of Cities)
  • Michael Sweet (Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP)
  • Tom Lockard (Managing Director, Public Finance, Stone & Youngberg a Division of Stifel Nicolaus)

12:00-12:30 pm Luncheon

12:30-1:30 pm Keynote Address

Introduction: John Filan, (Vice President, Development Specialists, Inc.)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mark Zandi (Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics) 

"The Economic Consequences of Policy Uncertainty"

1:30-2:45 pm Panel III, The Politics and Principles of Restructuring

This panel will address the following questions: What is Chapter 9 and is it a viable and efficient way to address municipal distress? Do you expect changes to the bankruptcy code to deal with the enormous stress facing distressed municipalities? What are some of the best alternatives to save cost, including cross-jurisdiction and public-private strategies? Can you privatize or outsource all of a city's services? What are the ramifications? What should be the response of credit markets to municipal fiscal stress? Are there exemplars of restructured governments? What factors are required for success?

Moderator: John Ellwood (Professor, Goldman Public Policy School, UC Berkeley)

Panel Participants:

  • Judge Chris Klein (Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California)
  • Bill Brandt (President and CEO, Development Specialists, Inc. and DSI Civic and Chair of the Illinois Finance Authority)
  • Guy Davidson (Senior Vice President, AllianceBernstein)

2:45-4:15 pm Panel IV, Describing and Managing the Public Pension Overhang

This panel will provide an overview of the state and local dimensions of public pension liability. It will also evaluate the pension reform plan recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

Moderator: Sarah Anzia (Assistant Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley)

Panel Participants:

  • Stuart Drown (Executive Director, California Little Hoover Commission)
  • Marty Morgenstern (Secretary, California Labor & Workforce Development Agency)
  • Joe Nation, Ph.D. (Professor of the Practice of Public Policy, Stanford University)
  • Eric Hoffman (Senior Vice President, Moody's Investor Service)
  • Bob Brownstein (Directory of Policy and Research, Working Partnerships USA)

4:15-4:30 pm Refreshment Break

4:30-5:45 pm, Panel V, Lessons from the Front: Comparative Case Studies from California

Moderator: Michelle Wilde Anderson (Assistant Professor, Berkeley Law School)

Panel Participants:

  • Steve Erie (Professor, Political Science, UC San Diego)
  • Rollie Katz (Supervising Business Agent, Public Employees Union Local One)
  • Ron Loveridge (Mayor, Riverside)
  • Chuck Reed (Mayor, San Jose)

5:45-6:30 pm Sunset cocktail reception, Brower Center's Terrace


Fiscal Stress conference

Fiscal Stress conference

Fiscal Stress conference

Fiscal Stress conference

Fiscal Stress conference 

Fiscal Stress conference

Fiscal Stress conference

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