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Public Employee Pension Reform: Who's going to pay?

Host: Joseph Pace

Producer: Lisa Denenmark 

The 2008 financial and economic crash is reported to have wiped out about a quarter of the value of the San Francisco City workers’ pension fund— that’s roughly $3.5 billion. Solutions to replenish the losses are not easy to come by as the economic recovery continues to limp along. Although there were some signs of hope as Mayor Ed Lee reported $30 million in unexpected tax revenue last week as he unveiled his budget proposal.  Still, that bump pales in comparison to the projected unfunded pension and health care liability the city faces.

Amid questionable economic recovery and burgeoning retiree costs, attention has turned to restructuring public employee compensation to help close the gap.

As you might imagine pension reform is a hot topic among unions, legislators, public workers and taxpayers—not to mention San Francisco mayoral candidates.

After last November’s failed measure B, San Francisco voters are likely to see two competing ballot measures come this fall that will ask them to decide how much city employees should contribute towards their retirement—one measure born out of talks between union representatives and the mayor and the other—a second attempt at pension reform from public defender Jeff Adachi.


  • Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s Public Defender and proponent of the so-called “Son of B” measure which is currently collecting signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
  • Larry Bradshaw, paramedic and a vice president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represents 54,000 members in Northern California.
  • Corey Cook is Assistant Professor at University of San Francisco, and the Director, the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.
  •  Dave Low, the Executive Director and Director of Governmental Relations of Californians for Retirement Security, the largest classified school employee union in the country.