Attention to the Wisconsin recall election was overwhelming, pushing out what otherwise would be big news: The passage of San Diego’s Proposition B, which limits pension payments for city employees and moves new hires into a “defined contribution” 401(k)-style pension plan. Prop B, which was strongly opposed by public employees unions, nevertheless passed by an almost two-to-one margin in a city with a history of pension funding problems. For the eighth-largest city in the country, not to mention one located in union-heavy California, to enact such an ambitious change will give heart to pension reformers around the country. As Jason Richwine of Heritage and I have shown, generous traditional pension benefits are a main driver of pay differences between public and private sector employees.
Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, a city council member and prominent Prop B proponent (and, full disclosure, an old friend), can only be happy with last night’s results. On top of Prop B’s passage, DeMaio was the leading vote-getter in the initial round of mayoral balloting; He will face Democratic Rep. Bob Filner in a November run-off.