In a move to slash the retirement benefits of public employees in California, a group of mostly conservative policy advocates has been working behind the scenes on a possible 2014 ballot initiative. A copy of the still-secret draft initiative, which could dramatically impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians and send a signal nationwide, has been obtained by Frying Pan News. If enacted, the proposed law would allow the state and local governments to cut back retirement benefits for current employees for the years of work they perform after the changes go into effect. Previous efforts to curb retirement benefits for public employees have largely focused on newly hired workers, but the initiative would shrink pensions for workers who are currently on the job.
“This initiative defines that a government employee’s ‘vested rights’ only applies to pension and retiree healthcare benefits earned for service already rendered, and explicitly empowers government employers and the voters to amend pension and retiree healthcare benefits for an employee’s future years of service,” the private draft states…
See also http://my.firedoglake.com/garycohn/2013/09/26/exclusive-pension-cutting-ballot-initiative-revealed/
The draft to which the articles refer explicitly includes UC. Note that it is easy to file initiatives in California; it costs only $200 to start the process. But to get the requisite signatures will cost $1-$2 million for commercial signature gatherers. And if an initiative gets on the ballot but is controversial, there can be tens of millions more expended for TV advertising and other campaigning. The group described in the articles appears to have potential wealthy donors available but whether such donors will want to “invest” in a campaign is unknown. There have been previous efforts along these lines that were not ultimately pursued.
The draft is at http://www.scribd.com/doc/171018117/Ballot-Initiative-Draft
When UC created its two-tier pension system (lower tier for new hires), it did not change the benefit formula for current employees going forward. The draft initiative would give government entities the authority to change formulas going forward, however.