Pension reform

Most trends that originate in California would be better off confined within its borders. But one potential ballot initiative in the Golden State would also be worth a shot in Nevada.

The proposed “Pension Proposition 13” would amend the California Constitution to address the skyrocketing unfunded taxpayer mandates stemming from generous retirement plans for public employees.

Among other things, it would cap benefits below current levels, increase eligibility ages, amend the method by which benefits are calculated and mandate that Social Security payments be taken in to consideration when figuring pension payments.

These are all sensible steps.

Unfortunately, the measure preserves the “defined benefit” nature of these programs — meaning benefits bear no relationship to contributions. It would be a far stronger proposal — although perhaps not as popular — if it pushed new hires into a “defined contribution” program under which they have the responsibility of deciding how much they wish to have deducted from their paychecks toward their own retirement.

Still, Pension Proposition 13 is a good start. How much longer must taxpayers continue to fund retirement packages for government workers that far exceed what employees in the private sector can expect?

Nevada lawmakers — particularly Assembly Democrats — have already demonstrated that they have no inclination to upset the government unions by tackling this thorny issue. That’s why it will eventually be necessary for supporters of this movement to bypass Carson City and go directly to the voters.

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