LOS ANGELES, CA — Citing exploding pension costs and the impact it will have on public safety and other city services, leaders from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, accompanied by former Mayor Richard Riordan, told the City’s Executive Employee Relations Committee (EERC)* that the time to act on pension reform is now. Mayor Riordan joined Chamber Chair Karen Hathaway, Chamber Past Chair David Fleming, 2013 Chamber Chair Alan Rothenberg, Chamber President & CEO Gary Toebben, Chamber member Alex Rubalcava, BizFed CEO Tracy Rafter and Chamber Vice President of Public Policy and Political Affairs Ruben Gonzalez.
“Our message today is not about blame, it is about all of us working together to find a solution to a pension system that if unchanged will spell disaster for the City of Los Angeles,” stated former Mayor Richard Riordan. “The time to act is now. If not now, when? If not us, who?”
Toebben outlined three recommended actions to the committee: 1) Place a charter amendment on the ballot that would transfer the power over civilian pension plan design back to the voters as it was prior to 1972. 2) Control the increase in pension costs by controlling the increase in salaries. As the growth in pension obligations are directly tied to employee salaries, simply holding salaries steady will also arrest pension increases. 3) Create a new pension tier for new city employees. The courts limit the changes the City can make to the benefits of current employees and retirees, but the City can make changes to the benefits for future employees.
“This is the most critical financial issue facing the City today. Every dollar diverted to increased pension obligations will mean fewer cops on the streets, fewer fire fighters on the trucks and severe cuts to important city services,” said L.A. Area Chamber President & CEO Gary Toebben. “Our city leaders must act and act soon to protect city services and maintain the safety and quality of life of our community.”
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit www.lachamber.com.
*The members of the EERC are Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (chair), Council President Herb Wesson, Council President Pro-tem Ed Reyes, Budget and Finance Committee Chair Paul Krekorian and Personnel Committee Chair Paul Kortez. All but Councilman Reyes were in attendance.