Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Transfer Of Power | Racial Justice

Judge Rules State Pension Law Conflicts With Local Power

A Superior Court judge today upheld her tentative ruling to strike down a state law enacted in reaction to voter passage of a pension reform initiative in San Diego.

Judge Joan Lewis said the law, which required the city of San Diego to enroll employees not covered by the pension system into Social Security, conflicted with local powers given to charter cities.

Among other things, San Diego's pension reform initiative — passed by two-thirds of voters in June 2012 as Proposition B — closed the city's debt-ridden pension system to new employees other than police officers.

City workers agreed decades ago to opt out of Social Security in favor of the pension system. The new hires who will no longer receive pension benefits are instead being given retirement plans similar to a 401(k) in the private sector.

Backers of the law, introduced by then-Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, contended in court that providing workers with a sufficient retirement income was a statewide concern.

The judge pointed out that the law only applies to the city of San Diego.

"This lawsuit was about local control," San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. "We will defend the right of a charter city to negotiate terms and conditions of employment with our labor unions without Sacramento dictating those terms."

He said the provisions of Proposition B were implemented despite the law written by Hueso, now a state senator.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.