Pension Reform to Appear on Ballot in July

Some pension reformers are concerned the measure could be mischaracterized

By R. Stickney and Gene Cubbison
|  Thursday, Dec 15, 2011  |  Updated 4:18 PM EDT
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City Pension Reform a Numbers Game

Boxes of signatures in support of pension reform stacked at the San Diego City Clerk's office on Sept. 30.

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Fact Check: Pension Reform

Will the comprehensive pension measure cap salaries for five years? The Fact Check team is on it. Get more from voiceofsandiego.org here.

City Pension Reform a Numbers Game

Petition signature tables have turned into a tug-of-war over financial figures, and each side is questioning the other's footing.
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San Diego voters could get a chance to change the city's pension system during June 5's primary election.

Monday’s City Council voted 5-3 to tentatively put the pension reform initiative on next June's ballot after a record number of voters signed petitions to get it there.

But what's still up in the air is what the ballot language will say.

The so-called "Comprehensive Pension Reform" initiative would eliminate guaranteed pensions for all future city workers except police officers, and replace them with of 401k-style plans used in the private sector.

Employees would contribute more for their retirement, with a five-year cap on current salaries, to end "pension spiking.”

Backers of the initiative suspect that Council members who don't support it will try to mischaracterize the provisions in ballot materials.

"We've seen in the past, legislative bodies including city councils up and down the state manipulate the way a citizens' initiative is described in the ballot material," said Carl DeMaio, 5th District San Diego City Councilmember.

Proponents say the measure could save taxpayers upwards of $1.2 billion through 2040, maybe as much as $2 billion.

City labor leaders dispute those numbers, and warn of big cost increases over the first several years.

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