Garrett Harris 9:03 p.m., May 23
Filner Talks About His Alternative to Prop B
Bob Filner, the lone Democratic candidate in San Diego’s mayoral race, sat last week with progressive local news website OB Rag writers Andy Cohen and Annie Lane, giving an extensive interview and speaking at length for the first time publicly on a long-delayed city budget management plan that he’s touted as an alternative to Proposition B, the initiative to eliminate or curtail city worker pensions championed by his three opponents.
Filner first moved to remind voters that the entirety of savings realized from Prop B come not from shifting workers from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plans, but from the proposal to freeze benefit-eligible salaries for existing workers. The 401(k) plan has been proven by independent analysis to be more costly to the city over the long run than keeping the recently-reformed pension plan currently in place.
“The only savings come from the so-called salary freeze, but that’s negotiation. You cannot mandate that in a referendum,” Filner tells the Rag. “We’re gonna have 10 years of litigation probably as a result because it’s unclear whether it’s legal or not,” he continues, echoing beliefs expressed on Friday by San Diego Municipal Employees Association general manager Michael Zucchet that the proposal, if passed, would eventually be struck down by courts.
Filner says he also wants to renegotiate labor agreements with the unions representing city employees, reducing the current 4% annual raises the city is currently contractually obligated to. By reducing raises and placing a maximum pension limitation of $99,999 on all employees, he claims the city would experience significant cost savings over current projections and eliminate the six-figure pensions paid to a handful of former non-management level employees that have drawn the ire of pension reform proponents such as mayoral opponent Carl DeMaio, who was instrumental in placing Prop B on the June ballot.
Another part of Filner’s budget plan involves issuing $1 billion in new bonds at a rate 2% lower than the city currently pays on existing debt, amortized over 30 years instead of 15. He says this will save the city $550 million in the first 10 years of his plan, though no specific statement is made on how the extended term of the debt will affect long-range costs.
“If we have that $550 million now, we start fixing potholes, do the repairs, do the maintenance, and you fix things now and you don’t have to buy new ones in 15 years,” says Filner, seeming to argue that money spent on preventative maintenance in the short term will save on future costs. “In the long run I think it’s a lot cheaper.”
Filner also questions Convention Center expansion and pushes for stronger investment in urban core neighborhoods and the city’s ports in the full interview, linked above.
More like this:
- Pushback Over Prop B Implementation — July 31, 2012
- Inaccuracies Found on Proposition B Website — May 31, 2012
- A Better San Diego Forum Attacks Props A, B — April 21, 2012
- DeMaio Challenges Filner to Pension Debate — April 6, 2012
- Fiscal Analysis Pokes Holes in Pension Reform Initiative — March 20, 2012