GOP-led drive for California pension initiative dead for this year


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The Republican-led group California Pension Reform said Wednesday it is ending its campaign to put an overhaul of public retirement systems on the 2012 ballot.

The decision was made ‘after determining that the Attorney General’s false and misleading title and summary makes it nearly impossible to pass,’ Dan Pellissier, the group’s president, said in a statement.


The group, which includes former state GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim, proposed an initiative that would have gone beyond what Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to reduce pension costs, affecting pension benefits for current workers as well as future hires and placing caps on how much an employer can pay toward a worker’s retirement.

Pellissier said his group would lobby elected officials to adopt pension changes this year and, if that fails, would focus on putting an initiative on the 2014 ballot.

‘California taxpayers face more than $240 billion in pension debts that grow every year, a brutal math problem that requires courageous leadership instead of the special interest politics that is blocking meaningful reform today,’ Pellissier said. He said his group had raised about $300,000 but would have needed $2.5 million for the campaign just to qualify for the ballot. He said fundraising had been stopped after internal surveys showed it would have been tough to succeed with the title and summary put on petitions by the attorney general’s office.

A spokeswoman for state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris disputed the criticism of her office’s work.

‘Our title and summary describes the initiative’s chief points and purposes, and is accurate and not misleading,’ said spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill.

A public employee group called Californians for Retirement Security welcomed the decision to suspend the initiative drive, saying in a statement: ‘These sloppily written initiatives were dead on arrival because they were costly and undermined retirement security for millions of middle class Californians.’’


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Two proposed ballot measures aim to scale back public pensions

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento