From San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer:
I was extremely proud to announce yesterday that I was able to help bring together a range of ideas from San Diego leaders, policy experts and businesses. The result is the Comprehensive Pension Reform Initiative for San Diego. Today’s Union-Tribune calls it a grand compromise at City Hall.
It not only solves the City’s pension crisis, it also frees tens of millions of dollars for neighborhood services. It’s the type of plan that most San Diegans want to see. Below are my comments from yesterday’s news conference. As always, thank you for your support and feedback.
- Since I took office in 2006, there have been six significant proposals on the ballot that were important to the City of San Diego. I championed five of those ballot proposals, all of which voters supported. I campaigned strongly against one of those measures, which voters overwhelmingly rejected in November.
- The measure we’re introducing today is the strongest in a long list of reforms I’ve supported, and I expect another positive result at the ballot box.
- What matters most to all of us here today is the taxpayer. That’s what surfaced during negotiations and it’s why we were able to reach agreement on what I believe is a critical pension reform initiative that will become a national model across the U.S.
- This blended plan combines the best concepts of both proposals, and I was happy to help bridge the gap and bring the two sides together.
- I want to thank the Lincoln Club and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association for drawing on everyone’s ideas to put together the best proposal. It is important to me to have one ballot measure.
- The negotiations with the Lincoln Club and the Taxpayers obviously helped shape this measure. After talks broke down I remained optimistic. I knew a compromise was within reach, but that meant we had to keep talking and both sides had to be flexible.
- All ideas were fully vetted and improved upon because of those talks, and the finished product is a blending of initiatives that we believe is legally defensible.
- Simply put, this plan protects the taxpayer; it ends the pension system as we know it; it gives us the money we need for a range of neighborhood services, and it shields the City from years of costly legal battles.
- This plan also ensures sworn police officers, firefighters and lifeguards will receive a death and disability benefit, and that is certainly of high importance to me.
- This plan also includes a very important tool that sometimes gets overlooked. The elimination of Charter 143.1, which gives employees veto power over changes to their retirement benefits, is monumental.
- I believe the single most important tool we could give city negotiators is the elimination of 143.1.
- When I first took office, many thought the problems at City Hall seemed insurmountable.
- The City had no audited reports, a suspended credit rating, was frozen out of the capital markets, and placed under a Cease and Desist Order by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- My task was clear: To rebuild San Diego’s finances and begin to regain the trust of taxpayers.
- As chairman of the City’s first-ever Audit Committee, we have led the way in making San Diego the benchmark for disclosure and transparency.
- What we’re announcing today is the latest in a series of positive changes that have strengthened City finances.
- I am confident our coalition – Mayor Jerry Sanders, Councilman Carl DeMaio, the Lincoln Club and the Taxpayers – will produce the results hardworking taxpayers deserve and expect. I’m even more confident that voters will overwhelmingly support this measure in June 2012.