California’s Controversial Pension-Curbing Ballot Measure Delayed


A proposed California ballot measure, which seeks to curb the state’s pension benefits and rein in costs, will not make it on the 2016 ballot.

The initiative’s two backers – former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio – said they are now shooting for the November 2018 ballot.

The measure would have shifted new state employees into a 401(k) system and capped how much employers could contribute to new hires’ pensions.

More from the Sacramento Bee:

Reed said in a telephone interview that he is disappointed but undeterred. Professional fundraisers and potential donors, he said, believed that economics, politics and a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision would strengthen the likelihood of passing a pension measure in two years.

“Enough people in my coalition think so,” Reed said, “and you have to listen to them.”

Labor unions, which opposed Reed and DeMaio’s proposal and others like it, rejoiced at Monday’s news that another “extremist” stab at changing public pensions had failed.


[Reed] couldn’t persuade donors to come up with up to $3 million needed to gather qualifying signatures by mid-April. Beyond that, Reed estimates he would need another $25 million to wage a campaign against fierce union opposition.

Internal discussions, Reed said, turned to 2018. By then, some of his advisers speculated, the state economy might cool down, putting state and local budgets under more stress and giving voters more reason to pay attention.

There would also be no election for president that year, he noted, which tends to suppress turnout in Democratic, union-friendly California.

It costs about $28 million to run a ballot measure’s “campaign”, and to collect the necessary signatures, according to Reed.


Photo by  San Jose Rotary via Flickr CC License

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