San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed filed papers Tuesday in the first step toward qualifying a public pension measure for a statewide vote in California, a move that drew instant criticism from public employee unions.
"The Pension Reform Act of 2014" would alter California's constitution to allow state and local government employers to cut pensions for current workers prospectively, while the benefits they have already earned would be protected.
"Skyrocketing retirement costs are crowding out funding for essential public services and pushing cities, counties and other government agencies closer to insolvency," Reed said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Reed was joined by Democratic mayors Pat Morris of San Bernardino, Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana and Bill Kampe of Pacific Grove as well as Republican Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim in submitting the proposed ballot initiative to the Attorney General's Office.
Union leaders have blasted the proposal and characterized Reed as a self-aggrandizing political lifer and puppet of Wall Street interests.
Dave Low, chairman of the union coalition Californians for Retirement Security, called the proposal an "extreme" one that breaks retirement promises made to millions of public employees. The coalition represents 1.6 million government workers.
Low also predicted that the proposed initiative would stir up the same labor forces that defeated Proposition 32 last November. That measure would have made it harder for unions to collect members' dues.