New Scheme Attacking Retirement Security Proposed for 2008 Ballot
For those who thought the attacks against your hard-earned retirement security ended in 2005, get ready: the "empire" is about to strike back.
Former Assemblyman Keith Richman -- a termed-out politician and failed statewide candidate -- has introduced a new and even more mean-spirited version of the pension destruction plan that tanked in 2005.
If you'll recall, it was Richman who put forth the idea of privatizing the entire retirement system for new employees, threatening to eliminate death and disability benefits for firefighters and law enforcement. He lost that fight, but some folks just can't let it go.
Unlike the previous proposal, Richman's proposed initiative doesn't couch its plan in a desire to "help" new employees. It just punishes them ... and punishes them ... and punishes them some more.
Rolls back and caps retirement formulas. For public safety, it's 2.2% at 55. Some public employees would get as little as 1% for every year of employment.
Effectively caps maximum benefits ... at 60-70% of salary for 30-years of putting your life on the line.
Increases retirement age: Adds five years to minimum retirement age for firefighters and other public employees.
Removes benefits from collective bargaining. Employers could impose further benefit cuts on new employees.
Attacks long-term employees. Pension based on average of highest five consecutive years' salary (currently one-year highest).
Voter approval required on all benefit hikes.
"Mr. Richman's persistence in trying to extend his '15 minutes of fame' would be pathetic if his agenda weren't so cruel," said CPF President Lou Paulson. "Rather than work with Governor Schwarzenegger's retirement commission to promote retirement
security, Richman would rather just blame firefighters, law enforcement for all of the state's problems."
The plan to destroy retirement security has been formally submitted to the California Attorney General to receive a title and summary, with an eye toward putting it on the statewide ballot, either in June or November of 2008. In addition to Richman, co-signers of the measure include Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach and Contra Costa anti-tax gadfly Kris Hunt -- both vocal class warriors and opponents of real retirement security for public employees.
President Paulson is currently a director of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, the pension protection coalition that succeeded in derailing the proposals of Richman and Schwarzenegger in 2005. In response to that defeat, Schwarzenegger
appointed a bipartisan retirement benefits commission. CPF and CHCRS are participating in the governor's commission.
Richman claims to have the resources to buy petition signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Through CHCRS and on its own, CPF plans to work hard to defeat the initiative, should it make the ballot.
"Polls show Californians have no desire to play games with public employee pensions and health care benefits," concluded Paulson. "Mr. Richman's latest effort shows how out-of-step he is with Governor Schwarzenegger, members of his own political party, and with California voters."
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