Pension Crisis

Sad News, California: No Vote on Public Employee Pension Reform This Year

Bipartisan push sets eyes on 2018


If only it were just loose change.
Credit: Hin255 |

Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Council member Carl DeMaio are suspending their efforts to push public employee pension reform through via ballot initiative this fall and will attempt to return in 2018.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Reed and DeMaio's announcement marked the latest in a decade-long string of unsuccessful attempts to put a pension measure before California voters, although both men were behind successful local ballot measures in 2012 intended to cut into pension costs that they said had eroded their respective cities' core services.

Reed, a Democrat, tried to repeat his success in San Jose with a 2014 statewide proposal,but he failed to find backing and then lost a court fight over its official description. Last year, he teamed up with DeMaio, a Republican, and filed two proposals for the November 2016 ballot, intending to select one after they polled the language applied to each by the state attorney general.

I wrote about the two ballot initiatives and the circumstances behind them here. Apparently the measure to force new employees into 401(k) style ballot initiatives did not poll well (even though a 2015 poll by Reason-Rupe showed majority support for such a shift). The measure to cap the amount employers could contribute to pensions fared better in polls, but according to Reed, they weren't able to raise enough money to collect signatures and prep for an expensive battle with California's public unions. It is a presidential election year, and there are potentially going to be many ballot initiatives under consideration. There are already seven confirmed for the ballot and loads more in circulation, including one for a $15 minimum wage. The unions are likely to be heavily involved in the election and spending lots of money.

Read more about the yanking of the initiatives here. Below, ReasonTV explains why public sector pensions are in desperate need of reform: