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Republicans Seek To Merge Pension Proposals

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Councilman Carl DeMaio was also meeting with Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer; KPBS regrets the error.

Audio

Aired 3/31/11

Pension reform has long been the conservatives’ rallying cry in San Diego. The problem was how to go about it. Now a deal is in the works.

— Two plans are being floated to reform San Diego’s pension system. Councilman Carl DeMaio would cap worker pay and eliminate pensions for all new employees, including public safety. Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer want to cap the city’s overall payroll and switch new, non-public-safety hires to 401 k plans. Both measures are aimed for the June 2012 ballot. But local conservatives say two measures are one too many. April Boling is with the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

“It would be far better to have one measure on the ballot if we can accomplish that,” Boling said. “There will be less confusion, I think, on the part of the voters. And sometimes people just tend to vote 'no' if they’re confused.”

The Taxpayers Association and the conservative Lincoln Club are negotiating with Sanders and Faulconer behind closed doors to combine the measures. Boling said an agreement could be announced at the end of the week. A compromise must be reached soon in order to meet election-filing deadlines.

Lorena Gonzalez of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council said the deal is being worked out by local Republicans and corporations without the input of labor. She said the final proposal should be negotiated in public.

“We want to see what is actually coming out of that,“ she said. “But the workers don’t have these proposals, and the voters don’t have these proposals.”

Gonzalez said San Diego has already aggressively reformed its pension system by creating a two-tired system. She said city leaders should focus on the looming $57 million budget deficit instead.

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