Consensus Pension Reform Plan -- Working Together For San Francisco Families

07/12/2011 10:40 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

While cities across the nation are struggling to reign in pension costs, San Francisco has been working hard and negotiating with its labor unions to develop a comprehensive consensus proposal that provides a dignified pension to its employees while remaining accountable to its taxpaying residents.

I joined a member of our Board of Supervisors, Sean Elsbernd, to submit the consensus plan to reform City employee pension and health benefits. I am optimistic that this will be placed on San Francisco's November 2011 ballot.

At City Hall, the plan is supported by both moderates and progressives alike. A broad coalition of San Francisco leaders -- from downtown business interests including Warren Hellman to labor unions to community groups to good government organizations -- joined us in announcing our consensus plan.

I have been consistent in my commitment to ensuring that the City remains fiscally solvent and our City's programs financially sustainable. In order to preserve basic city services and critical safety-net programs, San Francisco, like every other city and county across the county, has to address the large unfunded liabilities and unsustainable spending on employee benefits, including retirement, health care and retiree health.

In order to address the problem, the City's plan does what other reform proposals fail to do -- the plan addresses not only pensions, but health benefits and retiree health care costs. In a comprehensive manner our plan prevents pension spiking, caps pension benefits, raises retirement ages, requires existing and new employees to share in pension and health costs. Furthermore, the City's plan requires that employees contribute more to the retiree health trust fund, a notable and significant cost-saver lacking in other proposals.

This plan seeks both long-term relief for the City, in the form of new, lower benefits for City employees who have yet to be hired, and immediate relief in the form of greater cost-sharing by current City employees for the existing retirement benefits.

When taken in the aggregate, the increased contributions by employees to their retirement and retiree health proposed in this plan will produce significant cost-savings that the City can use to preserve core government services. The comprehensive nature of our proposal reflects a belief that we must work together and share in the sacrifice for the benefit of the City as a whole.

Our proposal is not only serious; it is fair, equitable and legally-supportable. We are not just talking to our labor unions, but we are talking with them to make sure we are doing it together and doing it the San Francisco way.

This is a consensus plan of City leaders, labor, business, community that we can all stand behind. With a solvent city, we can provide vital city services and make the proper investments to keep families in our City.