Retirees: This article on the Prop B hearing at the Appeals court on March 11, 2019 is from the president’s of three retiree organizations.
Joe Flynn, Retiree
Your Opinions |
In Response: Pension promise must be kept
Re: “State Supreme Court’s blown opportunity” (March 5): In 1955, the California Supreme Court determined that pensions offered to workers upon their hire are a contractual right and cannot be diminished. For the more than 70 years since then, public employers have thus known that if they offer a pension benefit upon hire, they can’t reduce it at will.
Recently, the California Supreme Court ruled the state could revoke an opportunity offered to workers to buy up to five years of service credit in their pension system at a price intended to be cost-neutral. The court upheld this revocation as lawful because it is “not a right protected by the contract clause.”
The U-T editors lauded this decision and encouraged expanding it, saying of the 1955 ruling, “How was such a sweeping decision made without the explicit approval of the lawmakers elected to represent Californians? That’s not how democracy should work.” But it is, of course, how democracy works. The editors would presumably welcome an opposite judicial determination without the approval of lawmakers.
According to the National Public Pension Coalition, “A majority of states (34) follow a contract rights approach to public pension benefits.” Think about a mortgage contract, should the lender be able to adjust the interest mid-contract? Public employees are servants of the people. We take great pride in the services we provide, whether it be maintenance, recreation, public safety or any manner of service needed. Is it unreasonable, in exchange, to expect that a promise made is a promise kept?
John J. McTighe is president of the Retired Employees of San Diego County; Jim Baross is president of the City of San Diego Retired Employees’ Association; and Tony Hancock is president of the City of San Diego Retired Fire and Police Association.