Local Government
Reed Blasts AG Harris’ Description of Pension Reform Ballot Initiative

Reed Blasts AG Harris’ Description of Pension Reform Ballot Initiative

Originally posted at Public Sector Inc.
By Steven Malanga.

ReformPensions2014.com has blasted California Attorney General Kamila Harris’ characterization of the pension reform ballot initiative filed by the group, calling the AG’s description of the initiative, which is what voters will read on the ballot, “unfortunate.”

In a just issued statement, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who is leading the effort to change the California constitution to allow municipalities in the state to make changes to their pension plans, says that, “Voters deserve to have an accurate description of the initiative free from poll-tested words and phrases that confuse and distort the specific language of the initiative.”

Reed argues that the Harris description of the initiative:

INCORRECTLY claims that the initiative eliminates constitutional protections for vested retirement benefits for future work performed.In fact, the initiative maintains protections for all accrued retirement benefits, including the benefits employees accrue as future work is performed. These protections are NOT restricted to benefits accrued prior to the effective date of the initiative.

Harris’ use of the word “eliminates” in the initiative summary is considered particularly explosive by Reed and other backers of the pension reform act. In December theSacramento Bee reported that a labor-friendly consultant had developed a playbook for unions to use to defeat the initiative which urged labor to emphasize that the pension reform act would eliminate pensions for public workers. Now Harris seems to be following that playbook.

Supporters of the initiative have worried about the fate of their reform efforts in the hands of  the union-friendly Harris, who sparked outrage last year when her office drafted language for another pension reform proposal, “that many considered skewed against the initiative’s fiscally conservative proponents,” as the Los Angeles Times editorial boardrecently observed.

Now Reed and his supporters must decide how to go ahead with the reform campaign.

We remain committed to bringing their pension reform initiative before the voters and will be consulting with our attorneys and supporters in the days ahead to determine our next steps,” continued Mayor Reed. “It is critical that we reform our unsustainable retirement systems in order to preserve essential services and ensure that our public servants are paid the benefits they have earned.

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