The city of San Jose should put a hold on hiring firefighters until the firefighter union accepts a lower cost, second-tier pension plan for new employees. This would achieve cost savings and keep the city on a fiscally responsible path. Doing so would allow us to dedicate more funds to hiring police officers.
Much has been said recently about law enforcement budgeting. One of the shared community goals is to increase the actual number of police officers. In addition, another shared community goal is for pension reform. In my opinion, these two objectives are inextricably linked.
The now “famous” deadlocked 5-to-5 vote last week, regarding whether or not to move forward with a second-tier retirement system for new employees, was fascinating to watch but extremely disappointing in the end. I believe it was a lost opportunity for labor to not embrace a second tier. If the unions would have embraced a second tier, it would have taken pressure off if the first tier, but that opportunity is now gone.
At first glance, modifying binding arbitration back in July was not my first choice over new pensions for new employees. I support the Mayor on fiscal issues, so voting in favor of Measure V and giving residents the opportunity to support this measure is consistent with my line of thinking.
In a nutshell, Measure V would put limits on outside arbitrators. During the course of the campaign I have become more and more supportive of this measure. There are two primary reasons why it is important, neither of which are getting much publicity. One, the passage of Measure V will mandate that binding arbitration for public safety unions would be held as public meetings.
Everyone’s talking pensions and benefits these days. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided. Even the Mercury News Editorial Board has found religion on the subject, endorsing the passage of Measures V and W. “As to pensions, there’s a recognition across the nation that the level of public sector pensions is not sustainable…spiraling towards bankruptcy serves no one.”
Measure V puts budget control back in the hands of the elected representatives of the people, which is where it should be. It’s our money, and we elect people that we think will spend it in the most productive way possible.
Measure W would allow the city to create new retirement programs for new hires that are in line with today’s employment landscape. It protects current employees’ pensions— nobody who works for the city will be affected by this change.