It was a deal struck in 1981: Switch to a Defined Benefit plan and San Diego could opt out of Social Security for many of its employees. So when the City’s voters approved a ballot measure that reneged on that agreement, the State stepped back in to restore Social Security.
Many of the future employees in San Diego are going to be eligible for a 401(K) style retirement plan. Those plans, being subjected to risk at the hands of the market, do not assure participants will receive sufficient income in retirement. To help make sure that future retirees are not despondent, Assemblyman Ben Hueso introduced AB 1248, a bill that became a law when Governor Brown signed it on Monday.
The bill, according to its author, the law “will ensure that political grandstanding doesn’t result in reducing pension benefits for city employees below the basic social security afforded to all workers nationwide.”
Assemblyman and former candidate for San Diego Mayor Nathan Fletcher said it was more than that.
During a floor speech in support of AB 1248, Fletcher said that the bill is a matter of fairness. Aside from other municipal employees who are in defined benefit plans, only fisherman paid in fish, children under the age of 18 who work for their parents, and the Amish, virtually every employee in the country is a participant of Social Security.
“All this bill does is stay consistent with private sector employees,” said Fletcher. “Short of fishermen who get paid in fish, I don’t see a real compelling reason that we wouldn’t provide this bare minimum protection for those who serve us not only in the public sector, but in the private sector.”
The U-T San Diego’s Editorial Board saw it differently, however. They saw AB 1248 as “bullying” in an editorial run on September 5.
“San Diego is a charter city, not a branch of the state government, and should not be subject to the bulling of the California Legislature,” wrote the board.
The San Diego Labor Council, however, applauded not only the bill but the Governor for signing it.
“The San Diego Labor Council applauds the leadership of Assemblymember Hueso for carrying this bill to ensure a safety net for San Deigo’s public workers and the common sense approach taken by Governor Brown in signing it.”