Confronting the Costs of Retirement Benefits
Sam Liccardo

Framing the dollar amount as an “unfunded liability” makes the number bigger and scarier. It would be more useful to discuss the percentage of the city budget that goes to pay pensions, followed by what will happen to that percentage in subsequent years, all other budget requirements being equal.

I won’t pretend that I am against pension reform, but I will be reasonable here. If all cities follow your lead and “reform” pensions as you’ve proposed, there will be no issue for taxpayers.

My concern is, if other cities (for whatever reason) continue to manage pensions as they do today, we will be just like the San Jose Giants, a minor league city preparing police, fire, and other public sector roles for greener pastures in the big leagues.

I would rather pay more in taxes to make sure that we have public workers that stick around and get to know the idiosyncrasies of our city, as well as the people who live here.

Having said that, Measure B was on the ballot and overwhelmingly passed. (So did Prop 13 40 years ago, and polls show a majority still favor it today.) We’ll reap what we sow, and politically, I think you’re making the right decision. I’m just disappointed in my fellow citizens for thinking there are shortcuts to dependable public works.

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