This past April, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger temporarily pulled back his proposed ballot initiative to privatize all public employee pensions ? the one that would have eliminated death and disability benefits for widows and orphans of fallen firefighters. But when he made the tactical move, he also made a promise: ?I?ll Be Back? after your hard-earned retirement next year.
Unfortunately for firefighters, this is one promise the governor has decided to keep.
In the dead of night on September 8th, the last night of the legislative session, Arnold?s prime pension henchman ? Assemblyman Keith Richman ? introduced yet another flawed pension privatization proposal.
If approved by lawmakers when they return to Sacramento in January, Richman?s new measure, ACA 23, would go before voters next year ? right on Arnold?s timetable.
The introduction of ACA 23 is the ?smoking gun? revealing Arnold?s two-step attack on public employees.
- Step One: Silence your voice with Proposition 75, the Paycheck Deception Initiative.
- Step Two: Steal your pension next June.
Like previous pension privatization attempts, ACA 23 contains a number of the same dangerous provisions, the more egregious include:
Constitutionally outlaws defined benefit (DB) retirement plans for all state and local firefighters effective 7.1.07 in favor of risky defined contribution (DC) and hybrid retirement schemes;
Eliminates specific provisions that otherwise provide for secured, defined death benefits for the survivors of firefighters killed in the line of duty;
Constitutionally Increases the normal retirement age for firefighters from age 50 to age 55;
Constitutionally takes away retiree health care for those firefighters who have not yet reached age 55; and
Constitutionally eliminates the single-highest year standard in favor of a 36-month average when calculating a firefighter?s final compensation for retirement purposes.
In short, ACA 23 lacks a common sense approach to the issue of retirement stability. Instead of outlining potential improvements to defined benefit retirement systems, it mandates an extreme, unnecessary and ?one size fits all? approach that threatens the retirement security for millions of working Californians.
Philosophically, ACA 23 is simply mean-spirited. The measure does nothing more than inappropriately and unfairly attack the retirement security of those fire service professionals who have made protecting the public their life?s work; putting their lives on the line to keep Californians safe each and every time the alarm bell rings.
We can?t let Governor Schwarzenegger and his allies steal the hard-earned pension security of California?s first responders. That?s what?s at stake this November 8th.
If passed, Prop. 75 will give the Governor and his allies a license to take our hard-earned retirement because we won?t have the resources necessary to fight him. When he tried to take our pensions this past spring, we had the strength, unity and resources to force him to back down.
If approved by voters this November, Prop. 75 will steal our voices so that the Governor will have a clear field to steal our retirements next year!
To find out how you can help fight the governor?s pension grab, click here.