Pension reformers look to 2016 statewide ballot

As pension reformers take another run at the 2016 ballot, details of a proposed measure are beginning to take shape.

The pension movement is bringing together Democrat Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose, and San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican. Both cities were in office when voters in their respective cities passed pension changes that are among the most sweeping in the state.

Those changes are currently being challenged in the courts.

In the meantime, as Reed has said he hopes to put together a measure for the 2016 ballot, CalPensions’ Ed Mendel has details on what a ballot measure might look like.

At its heart is a proposal that would empower locals to make pension changes.

Mendel reports, “DeMaio called the proposal a “tool kit” for local officials to “fix the problems in a manner that reflects their community’s ability.” Reed said the proposal would enable “measures that people can do to make their own decisions in their own communities.”

During a break at the Reason Foundation’s third annual Pension Summit in Sacramento last week, the two men said they are “on the same page” and working with a coalition on the details of a proposed initiative for the November 2016 state ballot.

DeMaio said the state constitutional amendment would apply to the state, cities, counties, other local governments, and the University of California — all the “instrumentalities” of California government.

“The California Public Employees Retirement System, which opposed pension cuts in three recent city bankruptcies, and the state Public Employment Relations, which tried to block the San Diego and San Jose reforms, would be covered by the initiative.”

Reed tried to push a pension measure for the 2014 ballot, but walked away from the idea after funding failed to materialize. A ballot summary written by Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office was cited by proponents as a reason why they abandoned the measure.