The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 10, 2013
San Jose mayor says he'll file pension initiative language soon

131010-chuck-reed-courtesy-san-jose.jpgSan Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said Wednesday that he will soon file papers to place a public pension measure before voters.

'I hope we'll in the position of filing for the title and summary in a few days," Reed said during remarks at Stanford University's conservative Hoover Institution.

The Democratic mayor said that "time is of the essence" for cutting government pension obligations that he says have strained municipal budgets statewide. For several months Reed has been recruiting support for a measure that would alter California's constitution so that state and local governments could lower pensions prospectively for current employees, while keeping their earned benefits intact.

Prevailing legal wisdom says that retirement promises to current employees are constitutionally protected. A voter-approved rollback for San Jose city employees that Reed promoted is testing that theory in court.

Although lawmakers last year dialed down retirement benefits for new hires and required most current employees to contribute more toward their retirement funds, "we have to go further than the Legislature did in 2012," Reed told the Hoover audience.

Unions have rejected Reed's ideas and have challenged the San Jose law in court. A statewide measure would undoubtedly trigger a massive response from organized labor a la its successful campaign to defeat a 2012 initiative that would have made member-dues collection more difficult.

Experts figure Reed will need between $2 million and $4 million to collect the 1.3 million signatures required to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot. There are signs that a Texas millionaire is willing to kick in to the cause. Silicon Valley money from conservative backers such as Charles Munger Jr. could pour in as well.

PHOTO: Chuck Reed. Courtesy City of San Jose.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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