Fixing Our Pension System

Today, I stood with Controller Greuel to announce a landmark pension proposal that will benefit the future of the City of Los Angeles.

We know that general fund deficits are driven by rising pension and health care costs and that if left unchecked, these costs will continue to rise.

So today, I proposed a sworn pension reform plan that will save the city money without limiting our recruitment and retention efforts at police and fire departments. Under our reform plan, for every 1,000 new police officers and firefighters hired, the City will save $173 million.

It's a smart plan designed to encourage our sworn personnel to stay on the job longer before they qualify for pension benefits. We want our police officers and firefighters to stay for the long term and to invest in the community they serve. We want them to develop long-term relationships with the people who rely upon them for their basic health and safety.

I believe strongly that we have a special obligation to our sworn officers and firefighters to provide reasonable healthcare while they serve the City and in retirement. But we simply cannot continue to provide that benefit for free.

I'm not doing this because I want to. I am doing it because I have to. I did not run for Mayor on a promise to reform public pensions. But I did run on a promise to modernize and diversify the LAPD and to keep the city I love safer than it has ever been by expanding a police force committed to the community.

That plan has worked.

Even in the midst of a debilitating recession, we are safer today than any time since the 1950s. By working with the community and redefining how police respond to crime in our most at-risk neighborhoods, we have reduced gang crime by more than 40% in historically neglected high-crime communities.

So, given the choice between reforming pensions for new sworn personnel and ceasing police hiring, it's a no-brainer - I choose pension reform.

Time is of the essence and I am urging the City Council to put this reform plan on the ballot for the March 8 election.

We need long term sustainable solutions to our budget crisis and this plan reduces the taxpayer's obligation to fund the pension system and promotes a more stable and invested public safety workforce.