EDITORIAL BRING ON THE BALLOT L.A. AND LONG BEACH MAYORS MUST GO FOR BROKE AND PUT PENSION REFORM TO A VOTE BEFORE CITIES GO BROKE ; L.A. and Long Beach Mayors Must Go for Broke and Put Pension Reform to a Vote before Cities Go Broke

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), August 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL BRING ON THE BALLOT L.A. AND LONG BEACH MAYORS MUST GO FOR BROKE AND PUT PENSION REFORM TO A VOTE BEFORE CITIES GO BROKE ; L.A. and Long Beach Mayors Must Go for Broke and Put Pension Reform to a Vote before Cities Go Broke


IT is time at long last for Antonio Villaraigosa and Bob Foster to realize that they are never going to get the kind of pension and pay reform they need by negotiating with public employee unions. These two big city mayors aren't going to get their cities on solid financial footing without taking the next step: putting pension reform on the ballot. Otherwise, meaningful and lasting reform is not going to happen.

Villaraigosa and Foster have been trying to make deals with employees in their respective cities to scale back the retirement benefits. But even with clear and compelling evidence of deficits and service cuts they have been rebuffed.

Villaraigosa has been pushing the city's civilian unions to agree to scale back benefits and raise retirement ages for new workers. Pension costs command nearly 20 percent of the city's general fund. The unions have dragged their feet for months, probably hoping to run out the clock of Villaraigosa's last term and maybe get a better offer from a new mayor.

If the unions aren't going to budge for changes that don't even affect current employees, they surely won't give into the kind of reforms in pay and benefits for current workers that Los Angeles needs to avoid sharing the fate of Stockton and San Bernardino. Those two cities ran out of money to pay their financial obligations and have had to seek bankruptcy protection.

Long Beach is in a similar situation. On Aug. 1, Long Beach officials released a budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 that slashes 40 police officer positions and other services to compensate for a $17.2 million deficit. It would have been much worse but for the retirement concessions made by public safety workers - police and fire - last year that will save about $100 million over the next 10 years.

But that won't fly with Long Beach's largest employee union. …

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EDITORIAL BRING ON THE BALLOT L.A. AND LONG BEACH MAYORS MUST GO FOR BROKE AND PUT PENSION REFORM TO A VOTE BEFORE CITIES GO BROKE ; L.A. and Long Beach Mayors Must Go for Broke and Put Pension Reform to a Vote before Cities Go Broke
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