Governor Brown isn’t the only one proposing pension reforms. A Republican-led group called California Pension Reform recently filed two ballot initiative proposals that would also implement major pension reforms, including making current local government employees pay more for their pensions. Proponents behind the effort include Mike Genest, pension crusader Dan Pellissier, former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim, and former assembly member Roger Niello. However, the proponents have noted that they will only pursue one of the two initiatives for qualification on the November 2012 ballot. This decision will be based on which initiative polls better and the summary and title that is provided by the Attorney General’s Office. It is estimated that $3 million will be required to qualify just one and that finding donors will be a significant hurdle.
Mike Genest, former California Director of Finance, commented the following about the proposals:
“Other than defenders of the status quo, no one disagrees that our unfunded pension and retiree benefit obligations are decimating the capacity of our state and local governments to deliver critical public services. Unless we act now the situation will only get worse. While we would prefer to see a legislative solution to this problem, we know full well that there is little chance of that happening. We cannot afford to postpone decisive reform while our elected leaders debate half measures. We must act now.”
In the words of the proponents, the major proposals are as follows:
- “Requires current government employees to pay their fair share
- Makes benefits for new workers comparable to benefits in the private sector
- Stops the accumulating debt caused by unfunded pension and retiree benefit liabilities
- Reduces unfunded liabilities
- Requires pension boards to be more transparent and accountable
- Ends abuses such as salary spiking and retroactive benefit increase”
Details about version one of the initiatives are here. It includes stipulations like banning retroactive benefit increases and a provision that prevents felons from collecting full government pensions; in addition, pension funds would be prohibited from incurring new debts or unfunded liabilities.
Details about version two are here.
Labor groups have already called the proposals legally tenuous.