San Jose Mayor Introduces State, City Pension Reform Measure
On Tuesday, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (D) introduced a proposed measure for the November 2014 ballot that would amend the state constitution to grant California state and city officials greater authority to change pension benefits, Reuters reports (Christie, Reuters, 10/15).
Details of the Measure
The Pension Reform Act of 2014 -- filed with the state attorney general -- would leave intact benefits already earned by public employees. However, it would allow state and local governments to change current employees' future benefits.
Reed said the measure "gives government leaders the flexibility to solve their pension problems so they can both provide critical services to the public and make sure that our employees and retirees are paid the benefits that they have earned" (Woolfolk, San Jose Mercury News, 10/15).
Several other California mayors announced their support for the measure, including:
- Bill Kampe (D) of Pacific Grove;
- Pat Morris (D) of San Bernardino;
- Miguel Pulido (D) of Santa Ana; and
- Tom Tait (R) of Anaheim (Ortiz, "The State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 10/15).
Once the attorney general prepares a title and summary for the measure, supporters will have 150 days to obtain 807,615 voter signatures to qualify it for the November 2014 ballot (San Jose Mercury News, 10/15).
Reaction From Employee Advocates
Dave Low -- chair of Californians for Retirement Security -- said Reed's measure would "brea[k] the promise of a secure retirement made to millions of Californians."
Low added, "It will allow public employers to unilaterally cut the retirement benefits promised to current teachers, firefighters, police officers and school bus drivers."
CalPERS said changes to pension benefits "should be determined by the employer and the employees, and not at the ballot box."
The pension fund added, "The courts have clearly established that California public employees have a vested right to the level of benefits promised to them when they are first employed," adding that it will "continue to support and defend our members' vested rights" (Reuters, 10/15).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of Reed's measure are provided below.
- "CA Mayors Want Voters To Let Cities Cut Public Pensions" (McNary, "Represent!," KPCC, 10/15).
- "Some California Mayors File Ballot Initiative to Reduce Pension Costs" (Pringle, “KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 10/15).