BY ED MORRISSEY –
Voters in Wisconsin’s recall election decisively retained the governor that delivered on his promises for public-sector reform, but they weren’t alone. Two California cities voted on referendums to impose cuts on out-of-control pension systems, and they made the Wisconsin vote look like a nailbiter in comparison:
Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities that are struggling with mounting pension obligations.
Supporters had a simple message to voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled. …
In San Diego, 66 percent voted in favor of Proposition B, while 34 percent were opposed. Nearly 97 percent of precincts were tallied by early Wednesday.
The landslide was even bigger in San Jose, the nation’s 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B and 30 percent were opposed.
San Diego tends to be more conservative anyway, but San Jose does not. Even still, the Democratic mayor backed the referendum in the central-coast city. It’s not difficult to understand why. In both cities, pension payments have exploded over the last several years as the defined-benefit plans demonstrated their fiscal insanity. The Post reports that pension payments now eat up 20% of San Diego’s operating budget, and 27% in San Jose. Both cities have been forced to lay off thousands of public-sector workers to cover those costs, which means that services have deteriorated badly.