San Jose Mayor makes case for controversial pension plan | KALW

San Jose Mayor makes case for controversial pension plan

Feb 6, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown sounded the alarm yesterday, not about the drought, but about the skyrocketing pension costs the state will continue to incur in the years to come.  In a letter to CalPers - the state’s pension fund - the governor warned that plans must be made for longer-lived retirees that will drive pension costs up by $1.2 billion a year.

The conversation around pension reform in California centers around the glaring fact that pensions are costing the state too much money. In 2012, these costs ballooned to $2.1 billion. While lawmakers in Sacramento and officials around the state agree that the system needs to be fixed, they disagree on how that should happen and whether they should raise taxes or cut city, county and state services even further. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and a number of other mayors have another idea -- cut down future pension benefits and let mayors decide how much pension public employees should receive.

That idea has been met with opposition from public worker unions who say it is not fair to give up parts of their pensions. Now, Mayor Reed and his camp are planning to sue State Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office over what they say is biased and misrepresentative language of the initiative.

KALW’s Hana Baba sat down with Mayor Reed in his San Jose office, and asked him about his plan and whether it’s an easy fix.

MAYOR CHUCK REED: “We’re trying to create a tool that gives us an alternative to bankruptcy.  Something beyond just cutting services and raising taxes - both of which are very difficult and painful in California.”

Click on the player above for the full interview.