In my column Sunday, I explored how the state Legislature seems more intent on helping public employee unions protect their Cadillac pensions than helping counties and cities that are breaking under the weight of them.
But there’s more to the story.
The mayors of San Diego and San Jose, where voters recently approved bold pension reform initiatives, are angry that the Legislature may try to preempt those ballot measures with its own actions.
San Jose could become ground zero in the pension debate as it seeks a federal court ruling on the city’s ability to challenge the historic “vested right” of public employees to continue receiving benefits they were promised – until they retire – regardless of a city’s financial ability to pay those benefits.
In a letter sent to legislators last week, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed sharply warned lawmakers against doing anything that would undermine the will of the voters.
“Any legislative effort to override the reforms approved by our voters would be a travesty of the democratic process and a violation of the voters’ constitutional right,” he wrote.
In a letter to Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wrote, “Any attempt to nullify their vote would be a slap in their face and an outright insult to the Democratic process.”
If the legislators push ahead with such a knee-capping approach, it seems to me it would leave the governor’s tax initiative with just two chances of passing in the fall – slim and none.
- Paul Gullixson