UPDATE ON WEDNESDAY MORNING: Former Assemblyman Roger Niello now says he won’t pursue the signatures for his public employee pension rollback initiative, which prompted this response from a state union coalition:
“It is appropriate that the flawed Niello initiative to gut retirement security for millions of Californians will end up in the scrapheap of politically-motivated failures instead of on the ballot. It was a poorly drafted attempt to punish middle-class workers and it ignored the fact that workers have agreed to substantial reductions in retirement benefits and have increased their contributions towards pensions from 5 to 10 percent. We continue to believe the way to improve the state’s pension system is at the bargaining table, not the ballot box.”
Former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello of Sacramento is clear for signature take-off on his controversial public employee pension reform initiative.
The Secretary of State officially announced today that he may begin collecting the required 807,615 signatures of California voters in order to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot.
The constitutional amendment strips public employee unions of their right to negotiate their pensions in collective bargaining, sets the retirement age at 62 and caps benefits at 60 percent of an employee’s highest average base wage over three years. It also requires that workers match the public contribution to their premiums.
Polls indicate that public sentiment is with Niello but can he raise the tens of thousands of dollars it will cost to obtain the signatures? And more important, can he financially withstand the labor barrage that will come his way if he does it?
Read on for the news release from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Pension Initiative Enters Circulation
Modifies Public Employee Pension Benefits.
Eliminates Authority to Set Public Employee Retirement Benefits by
Contract or Collective Bargaining. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
SACRAMENTO – Secretary of State Debra Bowen today announced that the proponent of a new initiative may begin collecting petition signatures for his measure.
The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponent and to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then provides calendar deadlines to the proponent and to county elections officials, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:
MODIFIES PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSION BENEFITS. ELIMINATES AUTHORITY TO SET PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT BENEFITS BY CONTRACT OR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Sets retirement age at 62 for persons who are or will be public employees. Limits pensions to 60 percent of employee’s highest average base wage for three consecutive years. Requires employees match public agency pension contribution. Mandates public employees work fulltime for five consecutive years to receive pension. Provides public agency full discretion to modify pensions, and prevents pension changes through contract or collective bargaining. Retains current pension benefits for legislators and public employees retiring before initiative is effective. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Major reductions in state and local defined benefit pension contributions — potentially totaling billions of dollars per year (as measured in today’s dollars) — over the long run. These reductions would be offset to an unknown extent by increases in other compensation costs for some public employees, depending on labor market conditions and future decisions made by governmental entities. (11-0007.)
The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1484 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 11-0007.
The proponent for this measure, Roger Niello, must collect signatures of 807,615 registered voters – the number equal to eight percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election – in order to qualify it for the ballot. The proponent has 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by October 20, 2011.
The initiative proponent can be reached at (916) 442-7757.
To sign up for regular ballot measure updates via email, RSS feed or Twitter, go to www.sos.ca.gov/multimedia.
To view this and other Secretary of State press releases, go to www.sos.ca.gov/admin/news-releases.htm