Outgoing San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Will Continue Pushing For Pension Reform After Leaving Office

Chuck Reed

Chuck Reed won’t be the mayor of San Jose much longer. But even as he leaves office, Reed doesn’t plan on leaving politics behind. The outgoing mayor says he will continue raising money and campaigning for pension reform in California.

His ultimate goal is to get a state-wide pension reform measure on the 2016 ballot.

From Fox & Hounds:

“For me, it’s unfinished business,” says Reed, the outgoing mayor of San Jose, California. “I’m stubborn, persistent, whatever you want to call it.”

He’s talking about his plans for a statewide pension reform initiative in 2016; the $25 million is the cost of taking the message to the streets. While some observers may have thought he’d abandoned reform after his abortive 2014 attempt, Reed says he’s just getting warmed up.

“The fight will continue,” he says. “I’m going to work on fiscal reform issues, on the state and national level.”

For Reed, it’s personal.

“The problem is still threatening my city,” he says. “Retirement costs continue to go up, and this year the costs ate up all my revenue.”

And this was after voters in San Jose passed pension reform.


“The legislature is not going to take action,” he says. “So the best approach is working at the local level to create political momentum with a statewide initiative, allowing voters to go over the head of the legislature.”

Details are sparse on what Reed’s initiative would look like, in part because he is still figuring it out himself. But he offered some details to Fox & Hounds:

[Reed] says the main thrust will be to give state and local governments authority to alter future pension formulas for current employees.

“The retirees are the last people who should be impacted because they’re already retired,” he says. “That’s why I focus on current employees, because they still have the capacity to earn. The younger employees understand that it’s something that’s not sustainable, and they are the ones who are going to get hurt.”

The next mayor of San Jose will be Sam Liccardo. He starts Jan. 1.


Photo by  San Jose Rotary via Flickr CC License

After Years-Long Battle, Pension Cuts Come To San Jose Firefighters

Houston Fire Truck

San Jose firefighters are facing higher retirement ages and lower pension benefits after they came out on the losing side of a long fight between labor unions and the city of San Jose.

Voters approved a ballot measure to cut pension benefits for newly hired public employees almost four years ago, but the firefighters had yet to adopt the changes.

Reported by San Jose Mercury News:

The changes mean newly-hired firefighters can retire at age 60 with a pension of up to 65 percent of their salary. Current firefighters can still retire at age 50 with up to 90 percent of their salary.


The final arbitration decision, announced this week, will save taxpayers millions of dollars compared to more generous retirement plans previously given to firefighters. It’s a victory for Mayor Chuck Reed, the city’s chief pension reformer, and his fiscal conservative allies that make up a majority of the City Council, who have seen the public costs for employee retirement skyrocket in the last decade.

Retired Judge Catherine Gallagher, the arbitration board chair, made the ruling nearly four years after voters approved a second “tier” of reduced retirement benefits for new employees, and more than two years after voters set limits on those pensions. Gallagher noted in siding with the city that the voter-approved measures prevented her from adopting anything that increased taxpayer costs.

The firefighters are the last of 11 city unions to implement the pension plan changes for new hires, while voter-approved cuts to current employees’ retirement plans remain tied up in court.

Firefighters unions opposed the changes. They argue that it will be harder to hire quality talent if they can’t offer better retirement benefits. As a result, they claim, emergency response times will increase and the quality of the fire department will suffer.