Categorized | State

California Public Pension Reform Heads for First Hearing

 

San Jose Court Battle Could Present Landmark Case for the State

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel 

 

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California’s third-largest city, San Jose, and its employee unions faced off in court
on Monday over public pension reforms in a case that has
major implications for other local governments across the
state trying to rein in the costs of retirement benefits.

The lawsuit, led by San Jose’s police union, shows how difficult it is for local governments to break benefit promises to current and past employees even when other public services are being cut to pay for them.

San Jose’s pension overhaul was promoted by Democratic Mayor Chuck Reed and approved by nearly 70 percent of voters in 2012 but city unions argue the move violates the rights of its members and is in breach of the California constitution.  They want the court to block the measure from going into effect and to maintain the current pension plan.

“If the unions prevail it will give local leaders elsewhere reason to pause.  If Mayor Reed prevails, they may get even more ambitious in finding new ways to reduce pension outlays,” said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University.

In opening remarks in court on Monday, Arthur Hartinger, a lawyer for the city of San Jose, said that the pension measure was necessary given the city’s strained finances.  ”Retirement cost increases have gone through the roof,” he
said.

But Gregg Adam, a lawyer for San Jose’s police officers, countered that employees’ vested rights are at issue, adding that they can’t be legislated away.  ”Decades of California law say ‘No’,” he said.

The trial is expected to run through Friday.  Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas will have up to 90 days to make a ruling on the trial’s central issue of whether the city’s pension overhaul of current employee’s benefits is at odds with state law.  Analysts say her ruling will be appealed.

Reed told Reuters outside the courtroom the city is ready for a long legal fight regardless of Lucas’ ruling.  He said the city would appeal all the way to the California Supreme Court if necessary.

In recent decades, municipalities across the country have provided their workers with higher retirement benefits, both pensions and health coverage, often in lieu of pay increases.  But this has often created a future burden for budgets, made worse in some cases by skipping payments
into pension funds.

Two other California cities, Stockton and San Bernardino, last year filed for bankruptcy due to deep financial problems that include spiking pension costs.  Detroit’s decision to file for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy filing ever, was also partly related to the cost of pension and other post-retirement benefits for city employees.

San Jose’s pension reform, which has not yet been adopted because of the lawsuit, does not reduce benefits already earned by employees, but would require them to either pay higher contributions to maintain current benefits or receive lower benefits.

It also requires new city employees to split pension contributions evenly with the city.  San Jose, which has two pension funds, currently pays $8 toward pension benefits for every $3 contributed by its employees, according to Dave Low, a spokesman for the mayor.

Reed made tackling San Jose’s pension spending, which rose to $245 million last year from $73 million in 2001, a priority.  San Jose has had to slash other spending to help cover the costs and balance its budgets.

Savings from the measure will help balance San Jose’s books in future years and restore services cut over the past decade in response to budget shortfalls, said Low.

Unions for public employees don’t see it that way.

“The mayor’s initiative was flawed from the get-go because it pulls the rug out from employees who have worked hard, played by the rules and expected the city to keep its promise,” said Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition representing more than 1 million public employees.  “The foundation of California’s public pension system for nearly a century is that pensions are a legally protected promise,” Maviglio added.

The unions argue that any change in employee benefits needs to be negotiated and cannot just be imposed by the city.  They say the law shields their pension benefits from changes as they are the property of employees tied to their compensation.

San Jose’s public pensions are generous in comparison to others in California, which are already well above the country’s average.

The average San Jose police officer and firefighter who retired in the past decade, and worked for 26 years, gets an annual pension of $100,000, while the average civilian city employee who retired in the past decade, and worked for 20 years, has an annual pension of $45,000, according to proponents of the city’s pension reform measure.

Link:  http://news.yahoo.com/california-cou…232622160.html

* * * * * * * *

….To note, the City of Eureka is not far behind the salary levels of San Jose.

One Response to “California Public Pension Reform Heads for First Hearing”

  1. Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.

    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Recovered history: Great moments with the Clintons
    ABC News, 2001 - Former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have sent $28,000 worth of household goods back to Washington after questions arose over whether the items were intended as personal gifts or donations to the White House. “We have been informed that it is being shipped back, and the National Park Service is ready to receive […]
  • The real economy
    Washington's BlogAfter adjusting for inflation, median household income has fallen by nearly $5,000 since 2007. In 1967, 53 percent of Americans were considered to be “middle income”. But today, only 43 percent of Americans are. For each of the past six years, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened. Prior to 2008, this had nev […]
  • Tip to the media: Scientists and the public are concerned about population growth, so maybe it's safe to write about
    Huffington Post -  A new poll of American scientists suggests that a large majority of them (82 percent) regard population growth as a major challenge, almost as many as those who believe that climate change is mostly due to human activity (87 percent). The poll, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center, indicates that a clear majority of the American […]
  • And you thought all paranoid psychopaths were Republicans
    Politico - Reporters covering the House Democrats' retreat in Philadelphia tare having a much different experience than when they’re on their home turf on Capitol Hill. Reporters are being escorted to and from the restroom and lobby and are being barred from entering the hotel outside of scheduled events, even if they've been invited by a member of […]
  • Montana police dub peace group "extremist" because they left "a mess" at gatherings
    Missouiian - The Missoula Police Department got the nod to have the mayor sign off on a Homeland Security grant proposal – one that names the Rainbow Family as an "extremist" hazard in western Montana.The $254,930 grant will purchase a mobile communications vehicle the Missoula police will share with other law enforcement and emergency responders i […]
  • If Bush is elected he'll be the fourth criminal in the White House in a row
    Thanks to our drug laws, if Jeb Bush is elected president he would be our fourth criminal [albeit all unprosecutred] - to occupy the White House. Jeb Bush has admitted that " I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover."We even have a photo of Obama smoking. As for George Bush, he once said, "I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know wh […]
  • Education links
    Education news War on public education news  Charter schools Common Core Arne Duncan Bill Gates Michelle Rhee Teach for America Testing   ESSAYS Graduation speech Let 'em play Is the Gates Foundation involved in bribery? Road to literacy is paved with words, not tests School reform about class not classrooms Back to school David Mallery The missing pred […]
  • Race to the bottom: Scott Walker on drug testing
    Daily Beast - According to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, what American employers are really looking for these days is “someone who can pass a drug test.”Walker made that remark in a question-and-answer session in Washington, D.C... The Wisconsin governor is expected to formally unveil the drug testing proposal in his budget next week.The imitative would r […]
  • The real economy: Young worker earnings, 1980 and today
    NEWS REPUBLIC News Republic -  In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent toda […]
  • The real economy: Home ownership
    ACTIVIST POST […]
  • Big march in Spain against the political elite
    Common Dreams - Fed up with conservative economics and fueled by Syriza's recent victory in Greece, tens of thousands of Spaniards flooded the streets of Madrid to say: "No to Austerity and Yes to Change!" The march, dubbed the "March for Change," is the first mass demonstration in support of the country's new leftist party, Pod […]
  • Huge library fire in Moscow
    Independent, UK - A library containing over 14 million books, historic texts and other important documents has gone up in flames in the Russian capital of Moscow.The Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences has 14.2m texts in ancient and modern languages and includes the biggest collection of Slavic language books in Russia.It was foun […]
  • Morning Line
    In our three poll moving average, for the first time, Clinton is only single digits ahead of a Republican. She leads Bush by nine points and is ten points ahead of Paul and Christie. With Romney out, Bush leads leads by three points over Carson and Huckabee. They are the only Republicans in double digits. Huckabee leads in southern states such as AK, MD, NC, […]
  • Word
    A lot of people play music for the wrong reasons. I never played to get women, though I had my share. I didn't do it for the money, though it pays the bills. I realized early on that I could create something beautiful that would build love within the people who came out to hear it. Music is the best medicine in the world, man. - Clarence "Gatemouth […]
  • Native Americans bring peacemakng to Brooklyn
    Center for Court Innovation - Peacemaking is a traditional, non-adversarial form of justice practiced by many different Native American tribes. It is designed to heal damaged relationships and restore harmony to the community. Peacemaking brings together the immediate parties to a conflict (such as defendant and victim), along with family, neighbors, communi […]