State pension reform initiative gets go ahead from state to collect signatures for ballot

Mayors cleared to obtain signatures in effort to rein in high cost of government worker pension plans

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Mayor Pat Morris of San Bernardino and three other California mayors have been cleared to start gathering signatures to get their proposed statewide pension reform initiative on voter ballots in November.

The San Jose Mercury News says Tuesday's move comes a day after Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a summary for the initiative, which would allow cities across the state to renegotiate public workers' future pension and retirement benefits.

In addition to Morris, other mayors behind the initiative include Bill Kampe of Pacific Grove, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Tom Tait of Anaheim.

The measure, called the Pension Reform Act of 2014, would amend the state constitution to give government agencies authority to negotiate changes to benefits.

The mayors say it would protect retirement benefits that government employees have already earned but allow them to be modified for future years of service.

Union leaders called the proposal extreme by letting public employers cut the retirement benefits promised to workers.

Initiative supporters they expect to announce by the end of January whether they will start collecting more than 800,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot or delay their plans until 2016.

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