Patt Morrison for March 2, 2011

March 8th Ballot’s Measure G gets the ball rolling on pension reform

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Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Firefighters walk past a police cordon at a residential area after a shooting incident in Covina, California.

As debate over public employees’ pensions rages across the country and throughout the state, Los Angeles voters get their first stab at pension reform this coming Tuesday with Measure G on the city-wide ballot. The amendment would pare down the pension plans of incoming police officers and firefighters, and require of them for the first time, contributions of 2% of their salaries toward their health care benefits. There are virtually no opponents to the measure, but the real debate lies in how far to pare down. Opponents of the measure say it simply doesn't cut far enough will do little to make a dent in the budget (it’s projected to save the city $152 million over a decade); proponents of the measure say it’s a step in the right direction, even if it's not enough. The current system pays retired firefighters and police officers a yearly pension of up to 90% of their salaries—retired police chief-turned-city-councilman Bernard Parks received an annual $278,232 pension in addition to his earning more than $178,000 as a councilman; retired cop-turned-councilman Dennis Zine took $97,920 in pension money on top of his $164,000 salary. If passed, where does Los Angeles go from here on the long road to pension reform?

Guest:

Alex Rubalcava, head of Rubalcava Capital Management, an investment advisory firm. Mr. Rubalcava first warned of the potential for pension funds to bankrupt Los Angeles in 2006, and has been working since then to advance pension reform in Los Angeles.


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