Next week San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is expected to make a decision on whether to move forward with gathering signatures for his pension “reform” measure. But every passing day seems to come with more bad news for his efforts, including a new poll that shows the measure faces an uphill battle for passage.
Reed, who lost a major lawsuit over his city’s pension initiative last month and is on the defensive after both CalSTRS and CalPERS boasted double-digit returns last week, is contemplating suing Attorney General Kamala Harris over her title and ballot summary. Reed is unsatisfied with the AG’s work, even though the same editorial boards that pressured Harris to deliver a spin-free effort seemed satisfied with the result. For example, the Los Angeles Times noted:
“Harris did a fair job. The title is straightforward: Public employees. Pension and Retiree Healthcare Benefits. Her ballot language is unlikely to bias voters in any major way. The title and summary are boring and wonky, but that’s the nature of pension and government finance discussions.”
Language similar to the Attorney General’s was tested in a new poll by Washington, D.C.-based pollster Garin-Hart-Yang. By wide margins, California voters are opposed to key provisions in the proposed ballot measure .
“Seventy-eight percent of likely voters have an unfavorable reaction to eliminating vested pension benefits of police, firefighters, and public employees, including 54 percent who say they have a very unfavorable reaction,” says pollster Fred Yang.
Opposition to the Reed measure came from key voter blocs. They include:
- 82% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats, and 71% of decline to state voters;
- 79% of voters who initially said they would vote for the ballot proposal;
- 80% of white voters, 74% of African-American voters, and 73% of Latino voters;
- 94% of voters in the San Diego media market, 77% of voters in Sacramento, and 69% percent in LA County.
Voters also reject the merits of the ballot measure. For example, 66 percent say they oppose “amending California’s constitution to allow government employers to eliminate future benefits for current workers.”