Proposition B - Yes or No

Anonymous's picture

What do folks think about Prop. B - the measure to require SF City workers to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare costs?

bobbyh's picture

YES!

It's about time that someone finally had the political courage to step up and tackle the issue of pension reform in San Francisco, because what most people don't realize is that our pension problem, if left unchecked, will literally bankrupt the City in no time.  All the budget cuts we are talking about these days are peanuts compared to the amount of money we are talking about with our pension obligations.  Sure, labor groups and their allies don't like the idea because they will have to contribute more towards their own retirement, but this isn't a matter of desire or choice, San Francisco will go completely bankrupt if something doesn't change.

This was an easy problem to ignore a few years ago because our pension liability was paid for by returns on the City's investments, but that is no longer the case.  In order to cover those costs this year, San Francisco will have to contribute anywhere from $300-$575 million to its pension obligations.  This isn't funny money, but rather funds taken directly from the City's General Fund.  To put those numbers in perspective, the City's General Fund is a mere $1.2 billion, so we're already talking about up to 50% of the discretionary dollars the City has available to fund everything from street repair to parks to public safety etc. that are going towards employee pensions. Even scarier is that the contribution levels are projected to increase rapidly.  So yes, we are talking about survival of the entire local government system.

With those stakes, having City employees pay 9-10% towards their own retirement pensions is not a lot to ask.  The result of Prop B will be a savings of $120 million a year, money that is desperately needed, especially now, and that will go a long way towards staving off a complete implosion of our fiscal house.  We need this and literally can't afford to wait another year as we're already in dire straights.  This isn't about labor bashing or personal political battles, this is about the fiscal survival of the City and County of San Francisco.

rtumblesf's picture

question

LIke all these elections, it is hard to figure out exactly what is going on. But I am somewhat confused. Is it about health care for San Franciscans, just about health care for city workers, or is it about pensions for city workers, or some combination of those? Still trying to figure this one out.

rtumblesf's picture

From the Yes Side

This came through from the Yes side. Anybody have a link to the NO side spot or stuff?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTTrWk35h-Y&feature=autofb

Eric Jaye's picture

Reply

It is both. Yes side trying to focus on pensions - No side trying to keep the focus on healthcare.

DonRoss's picture

What should have been

What should have been proposed, is that when fiscal times are good pension contributions remain flat, when fiscal times are bad pension obligations of city employees would rise.

I used to work for the City and I found it strange that I didn't have to contribute anything to my retirement.  Now I understand these benefits were negotiated between labor and management, but to bankrupt the City today is no answer either.

The problem that many people have with Prop B. is that they felt concessions could have been made through negotiations. My brother in law is a front line City worker with two kids. They have not received a raise in three years (understandable in this economy), and were asked to vote on almost two weeks of furlough days with no pay. This was a significant blow to his family, but he was happy to keep his job ultimately.

Now they are being asked to not only contribute to their pension (which I think is fair) and to increase their contribution for health care for their children, but if you don't have dependents your contribution doesn't really rise at all. This is the part of the measure that needed to be negotiated, not through the ballot box, but at the negotiating table.

I agree with Bobbyh the pension system is about to bust our system and that is aweful for SF, but to target workers healthcare is not fair, at least the way Adachi has done it.

Ive seen him promote this measure and he doesn't even mention the healthcare, but makes it all about pension reform. If he had put simply pension reform on the table, and made those contributions even larger - which seems fair as ulimately it is a benefit that will reward workers in their later years -- this measure would have had much broader support.

bobbyh's picture

SF Chronicle: Yes on Prop B

In case folks didn't see it, the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed Prop B (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/11/EDGE1FOQVN.DTL).

The article includes a good summary of the measure for folks (included below) FYI:

What it does

Pensions: Police officers and firefighters (who now contribute 7.5 percent of their pay toward their pension and get enhanced benefits) would contribute 10 percent. All other employees (whose contributions now range from zero to 7.5 percent) would contribute 9 percent.

Health care: Employees would be required to make a small contribution to their own health premiums, and cover 50 percent of their dependent health care coverage. Under the Kaiser plan, an employee with one dependent who now pays $8.84 a month would pay $249.17; with two or more dependents, the $228.74 premium would rise to $448.64.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137