Facing an ocean of debt, San Diego is offering voters in June a potential lifeboat: public employee pension reform.

“Taxpayers have had it,” former Mayor Roger Hedgecock said. “A huge portion of the city budget is going to fund these pensions far beyond anything in private sector.”

The initiative would force new city workers into private-sector style 401(k)s. Current employees would pay more, and their retirement payments would be based solely on base salary – not accrued sick leave and vacation time, often used to inflate pension pay.

“Labor unions used a lot of scare tactics to spike pensions over the past 15 years,” City Councilman Carl Demaio, a mayoral candidate, said. “They said, ‘If you don’t give employees these lavish pensions, then we can’t recruit and retain quality employees.’ Those arguments were false. They led us down the wrong path, and now we paying the price as taxpayers.”

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