Call it the tale of two pension crises. In June, the Los Angeles Times’ business pages looked at the looming retirement savings disaster caused by the nearly 40-year transition from employer-sponsored defined-benefit pensions to individual 401(k) plans — a sea change in retirement insecurity, it noted, that “has been a failure for all but the wealthiest Americans.”
Chuck Reed today declined to address the findings of a Capital & Main poll that showed weak support for two Reed-created ballot initiatives aimed at reducing pension benefits for California’s public employees. If either measure receives the necessary number of petition signatures to be placed on the 2016 ballot, it will face fierce opposition from organized labor.
The poll, conducted by David Binder Research, was released yesterday and showed that if an election were held today, the two measures would win between 40 and 42 percent of the vote. The survey sampled 500 likely voters and has an error margin of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
“I never make statements based on other people’s polling,” Reed told Capital & Main. “Especially in a political environment. We’ll make our decisions based on our own polling.”
Drafted by Reed, a former Democratic San Jose Mayor, and former Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio,
A pair of potential ballot initiatives written to overhaul California’s public pensions could face a rough road, according to a new poll.
The results from a Capital & Main-David Binder Research poll of 500 likely voters shows that if the election were held today, the numbers of those voting for the measures and those against them appear to be dead even. Those numbers are not what pension-reduction advocates had hoped for going into the 2016 election cycle.
Drafted by former Democratic San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, the so-called Voter Empowerment Initiative, and its sibling, the Government Pension Cap Act, received their official summary language (though not their official titles) from the state attorney general last week. Low numbers and lack of support among DeMaio’s fellow Republicans had already forced the pair to abandon a previous effort,
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has confirmed to Capital & Main that his city is nearing a settlement with its nine non-safety unions over a contentious pension-cutting law that resulted in an exodus of public employees, followed by costly legal actions. Measure B, passed in 2012, sought to reduce pensions for new hires, eliminate extra “bonus” checks to retirees and make it harder to qualify for disability retirement. It also called for veteran workers to either pay much more for their pensions or switch to a pension with reduced benefits.
The two sides appear to be moving closer to a settlement similar to one reached four months ago with police and fire unions.
How close? “Soon,” Liccardo said by telephone. “We don’t [quite] have all the signatures yet.”
The story of Measure B and the damage it left in its wake is of more than academic interest,
Backers of a proposed statewide ballot measure that would radically change the way wages and pensions of California’s government employees are formulated have begun an email campaign seeking pledges of support for the measure – as well as volunteers to circulate signature petitions when they become available in a few weeks.
The pension activists have 180 days from August 11, the date Attorney General Kamala D. Harris assigned a full title and ballot summary to the measure, in order to qualify it for the November, 2016 election.
Such email campaigns can help an initiative qualify for the state ballot if coupled with other efforts, Mike Madrid of Grassroots Lab, a Sacramento-based public affairs group, told Capital & Main by phone. “But if it is the only thing you are doing the chances for success are slim.”
In ballot-box politics, the bottom line is money.