Pensions initiative pulled

Carl DemaioThe landmark effort to take public pension reform straight to the people of California has been withdrawn from ballot consideration.

“Beleaguered by fundraising doubts and attacks from organized labor, two former California officials said Monday they are backing off plans to place a measure on the November ballot intended to curb public pension benefits,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “Instead, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio said in a joint announcement, ‘We have decided to re-file at least one of our pension reform measures later this year for the November 2018 ballot.'”

Staying solvent

The news marked a sharp reversal for critics of the state’s pension spending, which has ballooned apace with California’s freshly flush balance sheet. The price tag for guaranteed health coverage alone has put Sacramento on notice of the size and scale of the problem. “The state has promised an estimated $72 billion in health care benefits for its current and future retirees, an amount that will increase to more than $300 billion over the next three decades, according to the governor’s Department of Finance,” according to the Associated Press.

Gov. Jerry Brown has sought to bring those costs under control in a way that won’t spur a revolt within his own party or hand too much power to Republican legislators. “Brown proposes prefunding benefits similar to the way the state pays for pensions — by paying into a trust fund that accrues investment returns over time, reducing the amount of money that taxpayers must contribute in the future,” the AP noted. “In negotiations with public employee unions, he’s asking state workers to pay into a fund through a deduction on their paychecks. The state would pay an equal amount.”

A firmer approach

The Reed/DeMaio proposals would have tackled unions in a much different way.  “Reed and DeMaio had filed two proposals for the November 2016 ballot, planning to choose one,” as the AP reported separately. “One would have put employees who first join a public pension system on or after January 2019, into 401(k)-style retirement savings plans that guarantee fixed contributions from employers instead of fixed returns. The second measure would have capped how much employers could pay for new hires’ retirement benefits to a certain percentage of their salary.”

Public opinion studies produced conflicting portraits of how much support for the initiatives Reed and DeMaio could count on. “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),” as Reason observed. “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.”

Finding funding

That difficulty struck at the heart of the year’s complex political landscape. “The stark reality is that within the state, there are no deep pockets to finance such a campaign,” Dan Walters noted at the Bee. “However large they may be, fast-growing pension and health care liabilities don’t discomfit any major interest groups, since their greatest impacts are on local governments, especially cities, rather than on state government.” That would have likely pushed the initiative’s supporters into a scramble for cash.

The necessity to look far and wide for money fostered its own kind of political optics problem. “Any reform campaign would be dependent on money from one or more wealthy individuals, probably from out of state, and it hasn’t materialized,” as Walters observed. “Conversely, any broad retiree benefit reform effort would draw implacable, high-dollar opposition from unions.” So even if the reform effort gained an adequate sponsor, Golden State unions would be able to portray their high-dollar spending as more of an in-state groundswell than their opposition — a potentially substantial advantage in a populist election season.

33 comments

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  1. SmartMike
    SmartMike 22 January, 2016, 08:08

    Good, now is a going time to lower the retirement age and increase benefits for the abused govt workers. Accrue at 3.75 % and 47 1/2 years target age plus no cost medical care. Unused sick time to accrue at 2 times pay to provide possibility of a little nest egg in final check. In no case will unused sick time be paid less than 3 months pay. Also, free tuition for children at state schools(no time limit), and jobs for life in govt service.
    Time to release the chains from govt workers.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 January, 2016, 10:15

      Best post on CWD EVER!

      🙂

      Reply this comment
      • bob
        bob 22 January, 2016, 17:03

        Actually, Mr. Dog, it is very depressing.

        The chance of real pension reform in the near future is slim to none, and Slim just left the building.

        Read Walters article in the Bee. I think he has it right.

        Let’s face it, the public employee unions are very strong and have the politicians bought. On the other side there is no one with the resources to fight them, except a few billionaires.

        The reality is that the politicians will trot forth meaningless proposals as reform while the situation gets worse. And when they can’t kick the can down the road anymore, they will attempt to bleed the taxpayers white.

        Reply this comment
      • bob
        bob 22 January, 2016, 20:18

        Mr. Dog, this state has gone to the dogs long ago. Why do you think Ahnode calls it Colliefornia?

        The gooberment trough feeders like NTHEOC, Sawhorse and Doglass own this state and we are just their tax cattle.

        Reply this comment
    • Ro
      Ro 22 January, 2016, 11:06

      Ur pretty much an idiot and have no clue

      Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 22 January, 2016, 12:08

      SmartMike
      Good, now is a going time to lower the retirement age and increase benefits for the abused govt workers. Accrue at 3.75 % and 47 1/2 years target age plus no cost medical care.
      ——————————-
      Not my first choice You little Doomer. I am more in line with 31/2%@45 after 20 years of service. Many public workers on the east coast can retire after 20 years and the military can also after 20 years with fully paid medical! You sound more like DumbMike for not applying for aa Govt job.

      Reply this comment
    • Ted
      Ted 22 January, 2016, 13:22

      Carl Dimayo—- Bwa ha ha ha ha—- honestly— it’s like there are no adults left in the GOP.

      Reply this comment
  2. Dude
    Dude 22 January, 2016, 09:23

    Have a backbone. Stand up to these mafia thugs.

    Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 22 January, 2016, 12:12

      Dude says,
      Have a backbone. Stand up to these mafia thugs.
      ——————————-
      Ok Donald Trump Jr!! Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and get active! Come get some. Nah, Its easier to type and cry on a keyboard.

      Reply this comment
  3. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 22 January, 2016, 09:58

    “In negotiations with public employee unions, he’s asking state workers to pay into a fund through a deduction on their paychecks. The state would pay an equal amount.”

    Typical of the brain dead left wing pabulum excreted by the Always Progressive AP. The state wouldn’t pay squat. It’s the victimized tax payers who would be paying the matching funds, you left wing AP morons. What is really tragic is that this kind of subtle but pervasive propaganda works on the legions of intellectually marginal drones who read AP and take it at face value.

    The facts portrayed in this depressing article merely show what should be obvious by now. Kalifornia is beyond redemption and no real reform is possible. We live in a leftard dystopia populated by dimwits, sycophants, self absorbed know nothings and parasitic nincompoops. Other than that everything is wonderful here.

    Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 22 January, 2016, 12:03

      Kalifornia is beyond redemption and no real reform is possible. We live in a leftard dystopia populated by dimwits, sycophants, self absorbed know nothings and parasitic nincompoops
      ———————————————
      LOL, Meltdown of the month!!!

      Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 22 January, 2016, 10:25

    “We have decided to re-file at least one of our pension reform measures later this year for the November 2018 ballot.”

    Hey that is ONLY 34 months away! And by the time implemented about 46 months out, and by the time WE will see any improvement about 25 years from today. Awesome 🙂

    I am pretty sure this measure will not be needed by then…CalPERS is at a 73% funded level. It was 78% 3 years ago. Anything below 60 is a point of no return, the death spiral. It should be over 100% funded right now (about 125%-135%) at the END of the biggest BULL MARKET in US history. CalPERS has a 7.5% discount rate, and half way through this fiscal year the ROI is 2.4%. Mr. Math has arrived, and is going to give out FREE pension haircuts …very soon. Teddy Steals is first in line.

    Reply this comment
  5. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 22 January, 2016, 11:58

    Hahahahaahha, I was right again! LMAO!!! Dont worry DOOOMERS, you have a couple more years of hope….

    Reply this comment
  6. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 22 January, 2016, 11:59

    CWD= C rying,W hining,D oomers!!!

    Reply this comment
  7. #Ted
    #Ted 22 January, 2016, 13:19

    LMAO Dimaio- naise is yet another Republi-tool who can’t draft law– Is this his 5th attempt? What tool would ever support her with cash? AAAAAanyway— He might just decide that the best thing for him would be to run fro President and join the Repub clown car— he would blend right in there with the other a– clowns!

    OH MY—- I love this stuff!

    Hurry– post now slave trolls!!

    Reply this comment
  8. SmartMike
    SmartMike 22 January, 2016, 15:51

    Got it. Five years credited service for being an asshole is a nifty upgrade.

    Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 January, 2016, 19:03

    Belief in hack San Diego failed hucksters laughable…..doomers suck up to losers each and every day.

    Pensions are here to stay. No dumpster diving for seniors.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 January, 2016, 19:07

    Teddy

    The Poodle is so sad….
    ……lift him up…..you ran the Donkey out of town…..we need Poodle…..

    ..Poodle….Poodle. …..Poodle!

    Reply this comment
  11. Bill the man from G.O.R.E.
    Bill the man from G.O.R.E. 22 January, 2016, 21:20

    LOVE IT: Nothing fires up this board like the holy, sacred almighty California government pension. Nothing! When I worked as a contractor at the City of San Diego the water cooler and tailgate meeting conversation was always, always about retirement. Did you know there was a period there in the early 2000’s where you could vest with 5 years of service? Yup: 5! It went like this: you worked 5 years, bought 15 years and SHAZAM: a new young government retiree! What a grand scam! And like all really good scams, it MUST roll on to the bitter end. So be it.

    Reply this comment
  12. Critopolis
    Critopolis 23 January, 2016, 03:31

    Lots of bark, no bite?

    Reply this comment
  13. Donkey
    Donkey 24 January, 2016, 21:41

    The RAGWUS feeders are filling their own graves. There will be a reduction, and long before Social Security has theirs!! 🙂

    Reply this comment

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