Republican gubernatorial hopeful and former mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan calls electors from an office in Burbank, Calif., Tuesday, March 5, 2002.
Everybody’s talking about the city budget crisis, but who’s got a solution? Former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, that’s who. Riordan has been publicly touting his pension reform plan, which he hopes to get on the March ballot. Rising pension costs for city workers is what’s sinking this ship, says Riordan, and he wants the city to address the problem head on.
Last year voters approved lowering the benefits for new police and fire department hires, and more recently the city council made more modifications, raising the retirement age for new employees. It’s not enough, says Riordan. He wants the city to switch public employees from a guaranteed pension to either Social Security or a 401(K)-type plan that both parties would contribute to.
The proposal has brought howls of protest from public employee unions, including the Police Protective League and the Service Employees International Union. And three of the five candidates for mayor have come out against it as well, saying it would ultimately cost the city more.
While the former mayor is marshaling troops to get the 265,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot, public employees are out trying to dissuade people from signing the petition. Meanwhile, the city faces a $216 million budget shortfall next year. Should younger city workers be forced to delay retirement and roll the dice in the stock market? Can the city sustain its current and future pension rolls? If pension reform is truly the answer, is Riordan’s plan the way to go?
Richard Riordan, former Mayor of Los Angeles
Pat McOsker, President, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City