Updated: San Diego and San Jose voted in ballot measures to drastically cut public pensions

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    Jun 06, 2012 12:57 AM GMT
    What makes this fight particularly interesting is that this is fiscally conservative Democrats fighting unions and and their supporters who are also Democrats.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_PUBLIC_PENSIONS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    As state and local governments across the country struggle with ballooning pension obligations, voters in two major California cities cast ballots Tuesday on sweeping measures to curb retirement benefits for government workers.

    Ballot measures in San Diego and San Jose - the nation's eighth- and 10th-largest cities - are being closely watched well beyond California. The propositions are unusual because they not only target new hires but also current employees.[...]

    As the pension payments grew, San Diego's 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks. The city has cut its workforce 14 percent to 10,100 employees since Sanders took office in 2005.

    San Jose's pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, equal to 27 percent of its general fund budget. Voters there approved construction bonds at the beginning of the last decade, but four new libraries and a police station have never opened because the city cannot afford to operate them. The city of 960,000 cut its workforce 27 percent to 5,400 over the last 10 years.

    Opponents, led by public employee unions, say the measures deprive workers of benefits they were counting on when they got hired. Some workers decided against potentially more lucrative jobs with private companies, figuring their retirement was relatively safe.

    "This is part of a broader effort to attack workers and to make their lives miserable," San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria said during a debate on the San Diego measure.

    Thom Reilly, former manager of Clark County, Nev., and now a professor of social work at San Diego State University, said opponents face a difficult task. He expects the California measures may spawn similar efforts elsewhere if they pass.

    "The ones who are actually paying the taxes will never see these benefits in their lifetimes, so there's not a lot of sympathy in the public," he said.

    The ballot measures differ on specifics. San Diego's Proposition B imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.

    More than 100,000 residents signed petitions to put the San Diego measure on the ballot.

    Under San Jose's Measure B, current workers would have to pay up to 16 percent of their salaries to keep their retirement plan or accept more modest benefits. New hires would get less generous benefits.
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    Jun 06, 2012 1:22 AM GMT
    Cities, counties, states and the feds have been paying outrageous pensions for workers for a long time, pensions unavailable to people in private industry. Now, with less money coming in with taxes, where are these dollars supposed to come from? Employees should have been paying more all along, but they will have to pay more sooner or later.
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    Jun 06, 2012 4:44 AM GMT
    Wow - a really really bad day for Obama and big labor in the US tonight.

    Both ballot initiatives are currently winning in California.. let's repeat this - *California*

    "Pension reform scores big with voters"
    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/05/pension-reform-scores-big-voters/

    "Mayor thanks San Jose voters as early returns show huge lead for pension reform"
    http://www.mercurynews.com/elections/ci_20790991/early-returns-san-jose-voters-approving-pension-reform
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    Jun 06, 2012 9:34 AM GMT
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/us/politics/voters-in-california-approve-pension-cuts-results-suggest.html?_r=1

    In both San Diego and San Jose, voters appeared to overwhelmingly approve ballot initiatives designed to help balance ailing municipal budgets by cutting retirement benefits for city workers.

    Around 70 percent of San Jose voters favored the pension reform measure, with almost 80 percent of precincts reporting. In San Diego, 67 percent had supported a similar pension reform measure, with more than 65 percent of precincts reporting.

    “This is really important to our taxpayers,” Chuck Reed, the mayor of San Jose, said Tuesday night. “We’ll get control over these skyrocketing retirement costs and be able to provide the services they are paying for.”
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    Jun 06, 2012 5:59 PM GMT
    http://www.humanevents.com/2012/06/06/not-just-wisconsin-california-portends-bad-news-for-public-sector-unions/

    Not just Wisconsin: California portends bad news for public-sector unions

    While most of the nation’s attention was focused on Wisconsin’s recall elections, other local governments were taking important steps toward breaking free of public-sector unions, as well. Scott Walker’s victory shows us that, despite all the noise, unions are in decline in traditionally Democrat-leaning Midwestern states. But, in some ways, two local elections in California may portend even bigger things for the reformists.

    When you’re looking for public-sector union carnage, there is no better place than California, a solidly Democratic state where pension-plan funding for government employees is more than $500 billion in the red. Gov. Jerry Brown’s tepid 12-point pension reform plan hasn’t gone anywhere in the state legislature, but two of the state’s — and country’s — biggest cities dealt unions major setbacks Tuesday.

    In San Diego, payments into the public-employee retirement fund went from $43 million to $231.2 million — or 20 percent of city’s general fund – in little over a decade. So it’s not surprising that two reform proposals easily won over voters.

    Proposition A prohibits San Diego from using union-only “Project Labor Agreements” – which force the city to accept prevailing union wages and health care coverage — to be instituted on municipal construction contracts, opening up competitive bidding and saving the city millions. Voters approved the measure, even though California’s Brown recently signed a bill that would deny any state construction funds to a city that bans union friendly agreements.

    Proposition B will reform city pensions plans by moving all city employers (except for police officers) from defined benefit plans to an effective 401(k) akin to those in the private sector. It also calls for initiating a five-year freeze on the portion of union salaries used to calculate future pension payouts. At last count, around 70 percent of voters supported Proposition B.

    It is estimated that the plan would save the city nearly $1 billion over 30 years.

    Not surprisingly, unions — champions of “democracy” — launched a legal challenge against Proposition B even before any San Diegan had an opportunity to vote on the matter. Courts ruled that the measure could be litigated after the election, so expect it to be tied up in courts for a while.
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    Jun 06, 2012 9:35 PM GMT
    This is what you call FORCED fiscal conservatism. Liberals end up having to make the same cuts at some point, but always when it's too late and everything has dried up and there are no alternatives. When conservatives try to do it early on to AVOID disaster, they are called cruel and heartless.
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    Jun 06, 2012 9:36 PM GMT
    So once the pensions are no longer there and these workers are elderly, who do you think ends up paying for their care? icon_rolleyes.gif
  • jock_1

    Posts: 1492

    Jun 06, 2012 11:23 PM GMT
    yes those bastard republican leaders in those cali cities who cut the pensions of public sector union employees....oh wait nevermind, they were democrats who did it, that makes it ok, no recall there.
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    Jun 11, 2012 5:36 AM GMT
    More on the Democrats' miserable day in California.

    http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/article/barone-good-day-gop-wisc-california/590571

    That gives Republicans one guaranteed seat and one clear shot that Democrats hadn't counted on. And the primary returns suggest they'll do better -- and may nearly sweep -- the new districts in the Central Valley.

    In a 70 percent Hispanic district west of Fresno, the single Republican won 57 percent of the vote. In the Merced-based district to the north, a Democratic incumbent won only 41 percent and several Republicans split 49 percent.

    In one northern district, around Modesto, Republicans led in popular votes 48 to 34 percent, with the rest for the son of former Democratic Rep. Gary Condit. In the next district, around headed-for-bankruptcy Stockton, Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney got only 48 percent and two Republicans 52 percent.

    And in the Sacramento suburbs, Republican incumbent Dan Lungren, a perennial Democratic target, led the sole Democrat 53 to 41 percent.

    The Central Valley was once prime Democratic territory. I remember visiting the law office of a Democratic honcho in Modesto who had autographed pictures of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy.

    But the Valley, the richest agricultural area in the world, has had half or more of its water cut off by environmentalists intent on protecting the 3-inch delta smelt in the Sacramento River delta. Cutting off people's livelihood for a minnow is not popular.

    The numbers tell us that many of the Valley's growing number of second- and third-generation Latino voters feel this way too. And almost no one there likes Gov. Jerry Brown's lunatic high-speed rail project.

    The bottom line is that Tuesday was not a good day for the Democrats. Not in Wisconsin, not even in California.
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Jun 11, 2012 11:27 AM GMT
    I call for an across the board 40% pension cut for ALL elected officials, state, local, federal, new or old and anyone currently in office or collecting a pension. that should pretty much balance the budget.
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Jun 11, 2012 11:39 AM GMT
    jock_1 saidyes those bastard republican leaders in those cali cities who cut the pensions of public sector union employees....oh wait nevermind, they were democrats who did it, that makes it ok, no recall there.


    what about all those bastard republican public sector union employees who have been collecting those huge gov't pensions? u think all public sector employees are democrats?

    oh wait, this issue isn't as simple as your mind.
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    Jun 11, 2012 1:04 PM GMT
    thadjock said
    jock_1 saidyes those bastard republican leaders in those cali cities who cut the pensions of public sector union employees....oh wait nevermind, they were democrats who did it, that makes it ok, no recall there.


    what about all those bastard republican public sector union employees who have been collecting those huge gov't pensions? u think all public sector employees are democrats?

    oh wait, this issue isn't as simple as your mind.

    Do you deny a double standard exists between Democratic and Republican politicians who seek to reduce public employee benefits?
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    Jun 11, 2012 1:51 PM GMT

    *laughing at this topic while considering what was said to me on another topic yesterday*

    icon_lol.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 11, 2012 2:42 PM GMT
    I love this

    Go ahead and cut the pensions for public sector and union workers but God Forbid you cut the Bush Tax cuts
    and give tax cuts to local corporations ... when the state and municipalities are going broke anyway ... you can always soak it out of the people who work for a living

    Anybody see somepthin a wee bit strange on that?

    and PLUS if those dang Bush Tax cuts were allowed to expire... Guess What?

    A majority of that Deficit that you republicans always like to talk about?
    Well it just magically disappears


    But go head... keep up with your capitalistic gains and your and you socialistic losses for the top earners
    It's doin so WELL so far Right?

    You republicans make me laugh icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 11, 2012 4:13 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    *laughing at this topic while considering what was said to me on another topic yesterday*

    icon_lol.gif


    What was that out of curiosity? Surely it isn't your mistake in thinking that this means the pensions would be less than that of their private sector counterparts? icon_wink.gif

    Do you even possess enough humility to feel embarrassed? icon_lol.gif
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Jun 11, 2012 5:56 PM GMT
    socalfitness said<
    Do you deny a double standard exists between Democratic and Republican politicians who seek to reduce public employee benefits?


    I think elected officials from both parties who took workers pension contributions and spent that money on other things are no better than bernie madoff and should be serving the same term in jail that he is.

    you can argue that the pensions are too generous or too exhorbitant, but the facts are that the workers who were hired with that pension as part of their benefits package have a contract guaranteeing them those benefits,
    now the state (or other entity in the case of federal workers) just decides they can't afford what they agreed to and they change the rules?

    where in the pvt sector would a company get away with that, they'd have to offer a buy out, or retain pension and benefits for current employees, and only have the right to offer new hires a different package.

    Republicans want the US to morph totally into a ruling class plutocracy, where labour and empolyees are only given enough to keep them alive and a minimal roof over their heads, a modern day version of slavery. even the middle class can't afford advanced education for their children without enormous debt, thereby ensuring that the ruling class maintains their strangle-hold on 99% of the wealth.

    what amazes me is how many people the Republicans manage to get to vote against their own best interests. the many willfully ignorant sheep they call their flock.
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    Jun 11, 2012 6:08 PM GMT
    thadjock said
    socalfitness said<
    Do you deny a double standard exists between Democratic and Republican politicians who seek to reduce public employee benefits?


    you can argue that the pensions are too generous or too exhorbitant, but the facts are that the workers who were hired with that pension as part of their benefits package have a contract guaranteeing them those benefits,
    now the state (or other entity in the case of federal workers) just decides they can't afford what they agreed to and they change the rules?

    where in the pvt sector would a company get away with that, they'd have to offer a buy out, or retain pension and benefits for current employees, and only have the right to offer new hires a different package.


    The irony isn't so much that Republicans vote against their best interests, it's that liberals think that Republicans are voting against their best interests when really they're voting on basic principles of fairness and independence over being wards of the state.

    In the private sector companies do get away with that - it's called bankruptcy. When firms are unable to meet their financial obligations they can declare Chapter 11 which allows for reorganization and release of such things as pensions or Chapter 7 which is dissolution.

    When it comes to government employees, no such remedy exists other than through fiat/law - which is how they were awarded those benefits in the first place. So it's entirely fair that this is the case. These were negotiations where unions effectively negotiated their own contracts because of pliant politicians who wanted their support and organizations. The only thing that's surprising is that this hasn't happened earlier.
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    Jun 11, 2012 8:29 PM GMT
    thadjock said
    socalfitness said<
    Do you deny a double standard exists between Democratic and Republican politicians who seek to reduce public employee benefits?
    ...Republicans want the US to morph totally into a ruling class plutocracy, where labour and empolyees are only given enough to keep them alive and a minimal roof over their heads, a modern day version of slavery. even the middle class can't afford advanced education for their children without enormous debt, thereby ensuring that the ruling class maintains their strangle-hold on 99% of the wealth.

    what amazes me is how many people the Republicans manage to get to vote against their own best interests. the many willfully ignorant sheep they call their flock.

    My view on the Republican Party is completely different than yours. Fundamental views are based on life experiences, sources of information, etc, and won't be changed in messages on this forum. I don't consider the Republicans to be perfect by any stretch, and have voted for Democrats in the past. But if you are going to judge Republicans, you need to compare them to Democrats. You won't agree with me, but in general, I think of them as a party that has gone from wanting to strengthen the country as a whole to a party that panders to every special interest group. In terms of specific recent events, I don't see how you could disagree that:

    1) However it is to be resolved, per your earlier comments, it is fundamentally unfair that public sector should get better benefits

    2) State and local governments are in difficulty. Favorite retort to fix all woes at each level of govt is to tax the rich more. But you could seize all the assets of the top 1% and it wouldn't put a dent in the deficit.

    3) It is unfair that people should via involuntary union membership be forced to contribute to the Democratic party against their will.