San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio

April 19, 2011

[Publisher’s Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from the Honorable Carl DeMaio.. DeMaio is a City Councilman from San Diego – Click here to see my commentary on Pension Politics In San Diego – Flash]
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San Diegans have waited too long for a complete and lasting solution to our pension crisis.

The city faces a $2.1 billion pension shortfall. The ever-increasing annual payments into the system have resulted in deep cuts to basic government functions like road maintenance, tree trimming and library hours.

But no service cut or tax hike is deep enough to solve the pension crisis without serious reform.

San Diegans will finally have the chance to vote on a life-saving remedy with CPR  — Comprehensive Pension Reform.

I am appreciative of everyone who joined us in the collaborative discussions to produce this measure – including Mayor Jerry Sanders, the Taxpayers Association, Councilmember Faulconer, and the Lincoln Club.

The CPR Initiative is tough, sweeping and effective.  It will actually solve our pension crisis and save our city services from further cuts.

Most importantly, the CPR Initiative delivers reforms to ensure a simple goal is achieved: City employees deserve retirement benefits that are no better, and no worse, than the average San Diego taxpayer footing the bill.

We have loaded this ballot measure up with the strong pension reforms.  If an idea saved taxpayers money and ended abusive pension payouts, we put it in.


Here are the basic components of San Diego’s CPR Initiative:

  • End pension spiking. Currently city employees can have their life-long pensions calculated on not only their base salaries, but various specialty pays, bonuses, and other forms of compensation. The CPR Initiative bans that practice and requires pensions for existing and new employees be based strictly on base salaries.
  • Caps pensionable pay. The CPR Initiative imposes a strict cap for five years on individual pensionable compensation. An individual pensionable compensation cap produces bona-fide savings by reforming pensions for existing employees.
  • Increases employee contributions for pension costs. After years of taxpayers assuming a disproportionate share of the cost and risk of government pensions, the CPR Initiative imposes a strict 50-50 share of costs between the city and city employees.
  • Requires full public disclosure on future pension payouts. Taxpayers deserve to know what kinds of pension payouts are being made in city government. The CPR Initiative requires the city to annually post online the total payout per individual retiree (without names) and the last job classification held by the individual.
  • Transitions new city employees to a defined contribution retirement plan. The CPR Initiative requires the city to enroll all new hires, including firefighters and lifeguards, in a defined contribution 401(k)-like plan, with contribution rates set based on benchmarks with the average contributions seen in the private sector. The CPR Initiative allows new sworn police officers to remain in a defined benefit plan, but provides the Charter authority for the city to close the defined benefit plan and switch future sworn police officers to defined contribution plans.

Qualifying and passing the ballot measure will not be easy because the government unions will put up a tough fight. I am pleased that we were able to get all reformers on the same team and committed to work cooperatively together to make sure this measure succeeds.

It is my hope that just as San Diego has lead the way in egregious pension abuse, it will now be able to lead the way to comprehensive reform.

_________________________________________________________ San Diego Tea Party

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