Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
August 13, 2015

  • Proposal would let voters decide on new pension benefits
  • But summary says it would affect current pensions
  • Harris’ action sets stage for political battle next year

Kamala Harris is not only California’s attorney general, but a very ambitious politician who hopes to become a U.S. senator.

As attorney general, her office prepares the official “title and summary” for every proposed ballot measure.

This week, she issued a summary for a measure that would empower voters to approve any increases in public employee pensions, proposed by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio.

But it didn’t mention “approved by voters” until 83 words into her 100-word summary.

In contrast, the summary’s first sentence says the measure “eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree benefits for current public employees, including those working in K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, and police protection, for future work performed.”

That’s almost identical to her description of a previous, much different, pension overhaul proposed last year by DeMaio and Reed. They challenged the wording in court, but lost, then dropped the measure.

The description of the new Reed-DeMaio constitutional amendment, of course, pleases public employee unions.

They want to depict it as a gratuitous assault on those who provide vital public services such as those listed by Harris, who excluded from her description less popular employees, such as prison guards or parking meter readers.

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