Californians Want To Cut Pensions; Gov. Legally Cannot

Californians Want An Ax-Man; Unions Will Have to Cut Selves

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A voter fills out their ballot at a polling station inside San Francisco City Hall on November 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

    The voters have spoken: they want to cut public employee pensions. Gov. Jerry Brown's legal advisers have spoken, too: the governor, legally can't do anything about it.

    Across the state, California voters approved cuts to public employee pensions at the polls last week, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In San Francisco, a pension-reform measure was handily-approved, a scene seen in Palo Alto, Modesto, and San Luis Obispo, according to the newspaper.

    San Jose will consider slashing public employee benefits in a March special election. The election results Tuesday buoyed San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, according to the newspaper, who needs pension reform in order to close his city's 11th-straight budget deficit.

    The city's unions oppose the plans, as well as other cities' plans to do away with what's called "binding arbitration." It was binding arbitration that forced Vallejo into bankruptcy in 2008, when that city could not deliver on its promises to public employees.

    In order to avoid a similar situation for California statewide -- where pension costs are blamed for budget deficits -- Gov. Jerry Brown has a 12-point pension reform plan in place.

    The problem is that, legally, the pensions cannot be reduced unless the unions agree, according to the Contra Costa Times.

    Much easier than convincing current pension-receivers to give back will be to cut or eliminate benefits for future employees, according to the state's Legislative Analysts' Office.