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News Link • Voting and Elections

San Diego and San Jose Lead Way in Pension Cuts

• By: Michael Cooper and Mary Williams Walsh
Residents of San Diego and San Jose voted overwhelmingly to cut the pension benefits they give city workers. And they did so in a way governments traditionally avoid: moving to cut not just the benefits of future hires, but also those of current city workers, whose pensions generally have much stronger legal protections than those of private-sector workers.

 Unions in both cities vowed to block the cuts in court, but the ease with which the measures passed is expected to embolden other financially strained cities and states to follow their lead.

 It is not just Republicans seeking savings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, a Democrat, has been seeking to suspend the annual automatic cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.

 In Illinois, which has the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability, Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has been struggling to reach a deal with lawmakers that would cut the pensions of current workers without running afoul of the pension protections in the state’s Constitution. And in Providence, R.I., unions are being asked to ratify a tentative deal their leaders made last month with Mayor Angel Taveras that would suspend the cost-of-living adjustments for retired city workers.

 

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