Chuck Reed's Pension Scheme: The Reaction

October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013
To: Interested Parties
From: Steven Maviglio, Californians for Retirement Security
Re: Chuck Reed's Pension Scheme: The Reaction

Pundits, state officials, academics, and other community leaders had strong reactions yesterday to a proposal by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and a handful of small city mayors to break the promise made to teachers, firefighters, police officers, school employees, and other public employees about their retirement. Here's a sampling:

Jack Pitney, Clarement McKenna government professor, in the Sacramento Bee:

“It’s an election that Brown is going win by a substantial margin. It’s hard to see an election where the governor wins and voters pass something like this...For the unions it’s Armageddon. For the other side it’s just a video game.”

Bruce Cain, Stanford University, Political Science professor, in the San Jose Mercury News

"You start picking on police and fire, they can sway public opinion, People are grateful to have others willing to put their lives on the line to protect them."

"Poll is Bad News for Reed's Ballot Measure," San Jose Mercury News Political Column, "Internal Affairs" on FM3 (Dave Metz) pension poll:

"The Oct. 7 polling memo showed 63 percent of those surveyed oppose "allowing public employers to unilaterally cut retirement benefits for current employees." Just 33 percent were in support, and only 13 percent "strongly," compared with 43 percent "strongly" opposed. Opposition appeared broad across party, age, gender, racial and geographic lines. What's more, the polling suggested a 44-percent plurality favored maintaining current government worker pensions. A majority favored solving pension matters at the local rather than state level, and through bargaining rather than ballot measures. Whose polling is on the money? ... We have no reason to doubt Metz. Ironically, he's also the fellow who does polling for San Jose on potential tax measures and budget-balancing trade-offs."

CalPERS in Reuters News Service:

"The courts have clearly established that California public employees have a vested right to the level of benefits promised to them when they are first employed. This prevents not only a reduction in the benefits that have already been earned, but it also prevents a reduction in the benefits that an employee has been promised for their future service."

Robert Sapien, San Jose Firefighters Union President, in the San Jose Mercury News:

"After wasting millions on legal fees, all the while knowing that his Measure B was unlawful, Reed now wants to change the Constitution so that he can break promises made to city workers." 

Steve Smith, California Labor Federation, on Capital Public Radio:

“They could undo those promises with a single stroke of the pen unilaterally. They can do it based on a politician’s whims or political agenda.”

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