Three decades after California’s landmark Proposition 13 triggered a tax revolt across America, the state may again be on the leading edge of a wave of simmering voter discontent over how skyrocketing costs for generous public pensions are battering city, county and state budgets.
In San Francisco, Bakersfield and a handful of other cities, voters this fall will decide on ballot measures that could significantly cut public pension benefits and the amount of taxpayer dollars that fund them.
Just as Proposition 13 launched a nationwide ground swell of anti-tax sentiment 32 years ago, this fall’s issues are widely seen as a template for measures that could start showing up on ballots in Ohio and other states and cities also caught in public pensions’ tightening fiscal vise.
Perhaps the most closely watched pension issue on the ballot in California this fall will be a proposed charter amendment that would force San Francisco’s 26,000 public workers to contribute a larger percentage of their salaries toward pensions and also pay more for health coverage.
“Among elected officials, pension reform is the third rail of politics,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the measure’s point man. “So the serious changes needed to bring pension costs under control probably are going to have to come on the ballot, not through legislative action." More here.