Talks loom on statewide pension reform

Backers of a Ventura County pension reform initiative, which was removed from the November ballot by a judge last week, are not appealing the ruling. But they may meet with other reformers after the elections this fall to discuss a statewide pension reform initiative.

The Ventura reformers, including Supervisor Peter Foy, are talking about meeting with the leaders of pension reform measures in San Diego and San Jose approved by voters two years ago — former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

“I think we are going to get some large donors if we can all agree on something that’s workable,” said David Grau, chairman of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association and a leader of the county initiative drive.

The local pension reformers from all three areas share one common goal: cut growing pension costs that eat up funds needed for basic government services. But the methods they chose to cut pension costs are very different.

The Ventura County initiative, similar to the San Diego initiative, would have given new hires a 401(k)-style investment plan instead of a pension (the San Diego initiative exempted police) and called for a five-year freeze on pay used to calculate pensions.

The San Jose measure, while protecting pension amounts already earned, gives current workers and new hires a choice for pensions earned in the future: pay much more to earn the old pension amounts or receive a lower pension.

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