Mayors implore legislators not to undermine local pension cutbacks
Have Sacramento lawmakers been scheming to unravel tough new measures voters imposed to limit pensions of public employees in San Diego and San Jose?
Mayors in both those cities fear they have been, and letters they sent to key lawmakers this week raise new questions about what caused talks in Sacramento over overhauling the pension system statewide to fall apart earlier in the week.
“I ask that you respect the will of our voters and allow us to implement their will,” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, wrote. He warned that undermining the city could lead to insolvency or bankruptcy and said it would amount to “a travesty of the Democratic process and a violation of the voters’ constitutional rights.”
San Diego Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders noted in a letter to Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that changes to the pension system recently approved in San Diego had support of 66% of voters. “Any attempt to nullify their vote would be a slap in their face and an insult to the democratic process,” his letter said.
The Senate leader says it's all a misunderstanding and that they have no intention of changing the rules imposed last month by voters in San Diego and San Jose. Steinberg called the San Diego mayor to assure him the will of voters would stand, according to the mayor’s office.
But lawmakers are keeping secret the draft pension plan they presented to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Officials with the Brown administration, which opposes any rollback of the pension changes made by the two cities, will not confirm or deny that Democratic lawmakers have been pushing to do so behind closed doors and refused to release the plan. Rather, they are calling for lawmakers to publicly disclose it, contending that it would not save the state the $40 billion Democrats claim it would.
“There can't be a true debate on this matter until the Legislature's plan is released for public review,” Brown spokesman Gil Duran said.
Brown put the brakes on pension talks in Sacramento on Tuesday, saying through a spokesman that the gulf between him and Democratic lawmakers remained wide and that it would take time to bridge their differences.
The governor wants lawmakers to pass a pension plan when they return from their summer recess in August.
Read the letters:
-- Anthony York
Photo: San Jose Mayor Charles Reed. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press