2 big cities OK cuts to worker pension costs
Reform advocates predict others will follow example of San Jose and San Diego.
Landslide victories on ballot measures to cut pension costs in two major California cities emboldened reform advocates, who said they expect a flurry of copycat initiatives and increased support for Gov. Jerry Brown's long-stalled push to curb the state's obligations to its employees.
In San Jose, nearly 70% of voters Tuesday approved a plan that gives workers the choice between increasing their pension contribution to 13% of their pay, currently 5% to 11%, or switching to a lower-cost plan with reduced benefits. It also steeply cuts benefits for new hires and tightens rules for disability retirements.
The San Diego measure also calls for a five-year freeze on "pensionable" pay levels and removes elected leaders' ability to improve retirement packages without a popular vote. Leaders in both cities say voters were echoing a point that reform advocates have made for years.
"They understand the direct connection between skyrocketing pensions and the cuts in services we've suffered," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, the primary mover behind his city's push for reform. "They recognize that the system is simply not sustainable."