(Elizabeth Crum/The Blog) – CapitolBeatOK reports that a San Francisco pension reform initiative has qualified for the November ballot. If approved, the proposal will be responsible for saving California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the next decade and could serve as a model for other states.
The state of California has an estimated $500 billion in pension debt, CalWatchdog has reported.
The Cali proposal is of such wide national interest that the man who started it, Jeff Adachi, a public defender in San Francisco, was added as a speaker at the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy being held at the University of California, Hastings School of Law this week.
In remarks made on Sunday, Adachi described the frustration he and other California taxpayers felt after learning that one out of every five dollars collected in local taxes were paying benefits for government employees. Adachi said he was motivated to act as he witnessed budget cuts in the public defender’s office, the closure of public parks and other program cuts driven by cost accelerations in the pension plan.
In past comments about the proposal, Adachi has insisted, “This isn’t an attack on labor. It’s a math problem.”
Michael Moritz, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur best known as an early investor in Google, YouTube and Yahoo, has supported and helped publicize the measure which no doubt helped Adachi in his efforts to gather enough signatures.
If approved by voters in November, the proposal will save San Francisco taxpayers some $170 million by requiring most public employees to contribute 9% into their own pensions. Police and fire employees, with comparatively more generous benefits, will begin to contribute 10%.
As reported earlier this year by our own Sean Whaley here at the Bureau, Nevada has pension problems of its own that the state’s Public Employee Retirement Board has since agreed needs examination.