The March ballot in Los Angeles is crowded, but Measure G deserves special attention. Another not-perfect pension reform provides a good first step. And in Los Angeles, any step forward is a good step.

The city’s general fund operating budget is being overrun by pension costs, including the plush pension paid to fire and police. Some of these employees can retire with as much as 90% of their highest pay at 55 years old.

Measure G would change that. It would bring top pension rates down to between 70 and 75% at 55. It would decrease percentages for early retirement by nearly half. And while it wouldn’t affect the current employees or retirees, it is a step towards ensuring pension fund stability 20 years out.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Amid the worst financial meltdown in a generation, Los Angeles elected officials have cut library hours, scaled back park maintenance and laid off hundreds of employees.

But one sector of the city budget is growing dramatically: retirement benefits for city workers. Those costs, which cover pensions and retiree healthcare, are projected to consume roughly one-third of the budget by 2015.

Charter Amendment G on the March 8 ballot represents the first major effort by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council to rein in those costs. But even some supporters of the proposal, which would affect new hires at the police and fire departments exclusively, say it is too timid a remedy for the city’s pension woes.

Read the full article here.