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:

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  1. Someone didn’t want their kneecaps busted after all.

  2. My solution would be a tax on cadillac pensions, ala Gruber.

    Word it to sound like it would hit the rich. Say, “people with a pension worth $2 million or more” would pay 30% surtax on the amount above that, etc., etc.

    Make it very careful to net some patsies, but mainly net government employees with seriously nice pensions.

    Mix this in with a bunch of other taxes on the rich, taxes on oil companies, whatever else gets lefties excited.

    Then pass it that way.

    Yeah, there would be some collateral damage, but you could claw back some of the super generous pensions given.

    You’d get it back every year, so that 57 year old retiree who lives to be 97 pays a lot back, and if you word the total value of the pension this way, it looks like millionaires are hurt. (Which is true in a way, a nice fat state pension is like having a million dollar annuity.)

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