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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

County Pension Plan Governed By State Law

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The County of San Diego would have to go to the state legislature to eliminate guaranteed pensions for new employees.

The City of San Diego is planning to put pension reform to the voters. But the County of San Diego would have to go to the state legislature to eliminate guaranteed pensions for new employees.

The county is increasing how much its employees contribute to their own pension funds, but not considering replacing guaranteed pensions with 401k style pensions.

Harvey Leiderman, a Bay Area attorney, represents county pension plans, including San Diego’s. He says San Diego’s plan is governed by a state law passed in 1937, which works like a restaurant menu.

“The legislature owns the restaurant and tells you what’s on the menu.” Leiderman said, “Counties that have opted to dine in that restaurant - if you will - get to chose from what’s on the menu, but they don’t get to suggest dishes or options. They have to go back to the legislature to get the menu changed.”

Johanna Schick, a spokesperson for the county pension plan, said 401K-style plans like the private sector offers are not on the county's menu.

However she said the county already offers some defined-contribution plans outside the '37 Act plan, and the supervisors would have the power to add different pension plans to their system.

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