Ventura County Sustainable Retirement System Pension Reform Initiative (November 2014)

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A Ventura County Pension Reform Initiative ballot question, called the Sustainable Retirement System Initiative, was removed from the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in Ventura County, California. A ruling in Ventura County Superior Court, however, called for the removal of the initiative from the ballot. The judge stayed enforcement of his ruling until August 14, anticipating an appeal from initiative supporters. Proponents decided against filing an appeal, focusing their attention instead on possible statewide reform in 2016.[1]

The Committee for Pension Fairness, supported by the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, filed this initiative on January 16, 2014, and began circulating signature petitions on February 6, 2014. On April 23, 2014, the committee turned in over 40,500 signatures to the county clerk, needing about 26,000 of them to be valid. After an investigation, the county clerk verified that there were more than enough valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.[2][3][4]

The supporters of this initiative proposed it as a way to deal with the nearly $1 billion in unfunded liabilities - debt not backed up by assets - faced by the Ventura County pension system. In 2013, the county contributed $162 million to its pension fund, which is 260 percent more than the 2004 county cost of $45 million. The 2013 figure of $162 million amounted to 17 percent of the county's budget. The "Sustainable Retirement System Initiative," if it had reached the ballot and had been approved, would have changed the pension plan of newly elected officials and newly hired employees from the current defined benefit plan to a 401 (k)-style, defined contribution plan. The initiative would have guaranteed county contributions to employee retirement funds, which would be under the control of the individual employee and entirely portable. The measure would not have required any "matching" contribution from the workers, but would have allowed employee contributions as desired. The proposed plan would have also limited pension-base salary increases for five years, seeking to reduce allegedly immoderate pension payouts. The new system would have applied to all county employees hired on or after July 1, 2015.[5][6]

According to the Committee for Pension Fairness, four fifths of county retirees who receive pension payments of over $100,000 per year in 2014 received a larger salary than the one they earned while actually working. The Committee said this was caused by pension spiking, the practice of including unused vacation time, sick pay and other saved benefits in the final salary figures used to determine the amount of a pension. The Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Plan was established in 1947 and gives benefit services to about 15,000 members.[5]

Responses to certification

Impacts study

Once the county clerk announced that the initiative petition for the pension reform initiative was valid and sufficient to force action, the county board of supervisors were faced with the decision to either enact the ordinance themselves or put it before voters. On June 10, 2014, they decided, instead, to order a study on the financial and legal impacts of the initiative ordinance. This report allowed them to postpone for 30 days their decision over placing the measure on the ballot in order to give time for the report to be conducted and presented. Ultimately, since the reports did not discover that the ordinance radically violated existing laws or very clear precedents, the supervisors were forced to allow voters to decide the issue.[7]

This decision to seek further information about the effects and legal vulnerability of the measure before submitting it to voters was largely motivated by a letter threatening to sue the county by June 17, 2014, if the supervisors did not keep the measure off the ballot by proving it illegal. The letter came from a law firm representing the county's firefighter and sheriff associations.[7]

Supervisor Steve Bennett made the motion ordering the reports. He said, “The issue is not whether this (measure) is popular. The public’s understandable and appropriate frustration with the really high pensions that people have gotten from the system, the $250,000 pensions, etc., is driving people to say they would accept almost any measure that would attack the pension system. I believe it would drive people to even take pensions away from the very low-income people. I’m most concerned about those low-income workers that would probably suffer the most from the 401k.”[7]

Supervisor Peter Foy, who has proved a vocal supporter of the pension reform proposed by the initiative, did not believe the reports were necessary and said, “We can’t simply stop a vote by the people. Let’s let the people’s voice be heard.”[7]

Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesperson for the Committee for Pension Fairness, was very critical of the board's decision and accused the supervisors of stalling in order to prevent a vote. He said, “The majority of the board has already announced it’s opposed to pension reform. I think what they’ve done is buy themselves 30 more days to figure out a way to stop an election they know they’re going to lose.”[7]

Lawsuit threatened

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Shortly after the county clerk announced that the initiative petition had far more valid signatures than the 26,000 required to force the county supervisors to enact the initiative ordinance or put it before voters, Sacramento-based law firm, Olson, Hagel and Fishburn, which represented a coalition of initiative opponents including the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association and the Ventura County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, accused the initiative proponents of putting forward illegal pension reform. The firm alleges in its letter to the supervisors that the proposed initiative violates state laws governing public pensions and threatens to file a lawsuit against the county as early as June 17 if the board proceeds with the initiative.[7]

In response to the letter, Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten said, “They’ve raised some very troubling concerns that merit further review by your county counsel."[7]

Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesperson for the Committee for Pension Fairness, said that the board of supervisors should ignore the threat and let voters decide the issue. Speaking of the threatened litigation, Wilcox said, “I would think that the board, rather than caving in, would want to stand up to it. It appears as though they could use it as a pretext to stop pension reform.”[7]

Lawsuit filed

Status: Ruled in favor of plaintiffs, calling for the removal of the initiative from the ballot. Defending proponents decided against appealing the decision.

Immediately after the county supervisors voted to put the initiative on the ballot, the Citizens for Retirement Security filed a lawsuit against the county, making a judge the ultimate arbiter of the legality of the initiative before voters even saw the measure on the ballot.[7]

Deborah Caplan, a lawyer representing initiative opponents, said, “The most significant defect in the initiative is that once the county has opted into the state’s county retirement program, as Ventura County has, it’s subject to continued regulation by the state. Changes require state authorization." Caplan, in this statement, refers to an act from 1937 called the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937, which dictates the county retirement system and the laws that accompany it. This law was accepted by Ventura County voters in 1946.[8]

County Counsel Leroy Smith wrote a 21-page memo announcing that he agreed with opponents of the initiative and did not believe it would pass legal muster. Smith said that because the county had joined the state system, only state legislation could alter the county's pension plan. In the memo, Leroy Smith wrote, “Because the measure proposes only a local ordinance, which cannot by law disestablish the 1937 act plan in the county, the measure is illegal and of no effect. Once accepted, the 1937 act provides no procedure by which a county can disestablish the retirement system or unaccept the retirement law by any subsequent local action, either by the voters or by the board of supervisors." This left the county forced to defend an initiative in court even though the county's attorney did not believe the initiative was legal.[8][9]

The Committee for Pension Fairness, however, was confident in its initiative and was eager to defend it. Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for the committee, said, "Their legal challenge is not going to be awarded. They’ve given up trying to persuade people; now they’re going to try to persuade a judge. I think it’s pitiful.” David Grau, chairman of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, said, "We got a legal opinion first. That was the basic question: Can the voters change the system.” Attorneys for the committee argued that because County Ordinance Number 401, which accepted the 1937 law, was approved by a vote of the people, it can be altered or repealed by a vote of the people as well. Kenneth Lounsbery and James Lough, attorneys representing the committee, wrote, “This measure amends Ventura County Ordinance Number 401 which established the pension program in 1946 by a vote of the people. The power of the people to adopt a measure carries with it the power to repeal by the same means.”[9][8]

Wilcox stated that the committee was dedicated to proving the legality of its initiative in court and putting it before voters. Wilcox said, “They can throw their lawyers at us, and it’s not going to stop it. This is going to go on the ballot. And it’s going to go to the people.”[8]

Ultimately, however, the case was ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the measure was removed from the ballot.[10]

1937 Act

The suit filed by the Citizens for Retirement Security claimed the county-and therefore the county voters-have no power to alter its own pension plan. To understand the full implications of the argument and the importance of this lawsuit, some background on county pensions in California must be understood. According to state law, California counties have three options when it comes to pension plans for public employees:[11]

1.) The county may provide its own, independent pension fund and system; two counties use this option.[12]

2.) The county may contract directly with CalPERS; 37 counties use this option.

3.) The county may accept and enter into a pension plan created and regulated by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937; 20 counties accepted the 1937 act.

Ventura County voters ratified the 1937 Act in 1947, making it one of the counties that chose the third option. According to plaintiffs in the Ventura County court case, the act had no provision allowing for a county to withdraw, which means that, once a county accepts the state law and the accompanying system, it cannot alter that system without authorization from state legislators. On the other side, attorneys defending the pension-altering initiative argued that because ratification of the act was accomplished by a county vote, county voters have the authority to repeal the decision.[11]

Lawsuit effects

Because the arguments presented by both sides of this battle between state control and local control affect any county that has joined the state system, its outcome could affect the lives of millions of Californians. Below is a list of the 20 counties that accepted the 1937 Act and will be affected by the ruling:[11]

  • Alameda
  • Contra Costa
  • Fresno
  • Imperial
  • Kern
  • Los Angeles
  • Marin
  • Mendocino
  • Merced
  • Orange
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Joaquin
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Sonoma
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare
  • Ventura

These counties range in population from 87,000 to 10,000,000 residents, and, together, they contain roughly 75 percent of California's total inhabitants.[13]

Ruling

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew issued a decision in the court case over the initiative, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and affirming that the county must cooperate with the state legislature to change the pension system of the county and does not itself have sufficient authority to change it. Kellegrew also ruled that the initiative violated the single-subject rule because its provisions concerning a new pension plan and a cap on pensionable pay amounted to two separate issues. Anticipating an appeal by initiative supporters, Judge Kellegrew stayed enforcement of his ruling until August 14, 2014, allowing the measure to stay on the ballot until then. Supporters of the initiative, however, decided against appealing the decision, opting instead to focus their energy on possible 2016 statewide reform.[1][10][14]

David Grau, chairman of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, and Dick Thomson, president of the association, responded to the ruling:[15]

...people have the right to petition their government. It is a bedrock principle of our democracy, and this flawed ruling silences the voice of tens of thousands of Venturans who desired nothing more than the right to be heard.

It is appalling to be stripped of this opportunity. For the unions to sue to deny an election is troubling proof of their fear of public opinion. That a judge enabled it is even worse. While we will not pursue further litigation in Ventura, we plan to take our spirit of reform statewide. Nothing ends here.[16]

Text of measure

Preamble

The Preamble of the proposed "Sustainable Retirement System Initiative" read as follows: VenturaInitiativePremble.png

Full text

The full text of the initiative is available here.

About the initiative

Seal of Ventura County.jpg

The "Sustainable Retirement System Initiative," if approved, would have changed the pension plan of newly elected officials and newly hired employees from the defined benefit plan in effect at the time to a 401(k)-style, defined contribution plan. The initiative would have guarantee county contributions to employee retirement funds, which would be under the control of the individual employee and entirely portable. The county's contributions to employee retirement accounts would have been limited to be no more than the following rates:[17]

  • 4% of employee compensation to non-public safety employees who are enrolled in Social Security
  • 11% of employee compensation to public safety employees not enrolled in Social Security
  • 5% of employee compensation to public safety employees who are enrolled in Social Security

The measure would not have required any "matching" contribution from the workers, but would have allowed contributions from employees as desired. The proposed plan would also have limited pension-based salary increases for five years, seeking to reduce immoderate pension payouts and the practice of pension spiking. If approved, the new system would have appled to all county employees hired on or after July 1, 2015.[5]

The Committee for Pension Fairness provided the following list of "Key Requirements of the Pension Reform Initiative:"[18]

401(k)-Style Plans for New Hires

The initiative would establish a new affordable retirement program for new employees with contribution rates based on private sector benchmarks.

Guarantee Death and Disability Benefits for Public Safety Personnel, Including Sheriff Officers and Firefighters The initiative ensures any County employees who put their lives on the line to keep the public safe are protected with death and disability benefits for them and their families.

End Special Pensions for Politicians Under the Pension Reform Initiative, county politicians would receive the same basic benefit as other county government employees. Politicians would not be able to vote on their own pension benefits.

Caps Pensionable Pay for 5 Years The initiative will reform existing pension payouts to more sustainable and acceptable levels by capping for five years the amount used to calculate higher paid county employee’s pensionable compensation. This reform produces significant savings and reduces outrageous payout amounts in the pension system.

Background

Pension fund facts

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  • The total amount of pension payments to County retirees had increased by 100 percent from $101 million in 2004 to $203 million in 2013.
  • In 2004, Ventura County contributed $45 million to its pension fund.
  • By 2013, the County’s contribution had swollen by 260 percent to $162 million.
  • $162 million, the amount the county had to contribute to the pension fund in 2013, amounted to 17 percent of the county's entire budget.
  • The Ventura County Chief Finance Officer estimated that the county's contributions would grow to over $220 million by 2018.
  • As of 2014, the county pension fund had $1 billion in unfunded liabilities, which are projected debts to retirees not backed up by fund assets, projected contributions and projected fund earnings.
  • The pension fund that 2014 retirees depended on for pension payments was 79 percent funded, while an auxiliary fund run by the county was only 65 percent funded.[19]

Notable county pensions

Supporters of the initiative pointed towards a couple allegedly immoderate and excessive pensions of retired county officials and the general trend of retired employees receiving pensions that were larger than their ending salaries as reasons that reform was needed in the county.[20]

"Ventura decision"

A 1997 state Supreme Court ruling in Ventura County allowed retirees to add special pay such as vacation time, bonuses, health care allowances, education allowances and car, uniform and equipment allowances to their "final salary" for use in calculating their final pension amount. This court case, called "the Ventura Decision," gave legal authority for this process, commonly called pension spiking, and, according to an analysis done by Los Angeles Times in 2012, the decision has allowed 84 percent of Ventura County retirees with pensions above $100,000 to retire with a pension that is greater than their salary while working ever was. Two such cases that are commonly pointed to by pension reform supporters to illustrate exorbitant pensions are below:[20]

Sheriff Bob Brooks

Ex-Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks retired in January of 2011 when his salary was $227,600. Once vacation pay, a substantial longevity bonus and other benefits were added, his pension payouts amounted to $283,000 per year. Moreover, in September of 2013, he filed a claim seeking to increase that pension salary by an additional $75,000 per year. James McDermott, an initiative supporter, said, “The fact that he spiked his pension beyond his base salary was a slap in the face to taxpayers. This is stabbing them in the back. What chutzpah.”[20]

An attorney for Brooks, Anthony Strauss, claimed that the former sheriff was counting on the extra benefits in his pension and based his retirement plans around such pension boosts, as he had been told repeatedly that they would be provided. Strauss also said, “He is an extremely generous man and travels on humanitarian missions all the time, to Haiti and other places. That’s the way he uses his funds.”[20]

Executive Marty Robinson

Former Ventura County Chief Executive Marty Robinson was earning $228,000 per year, when she retired in 2011, but now receives a pension salary of $272,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Robinson cashed out nearly $34,000 in unused vacation pay, an $11,000 bonus for having earned a graduate degree and more than $24,000 in extra pension benefits the county owed her." This extra pay boosted her the salary on which her pension was based to an amount that resulted in the pension of $272,000 per year.[20]

Support

Ventura Committee for Pension Fairness campaign image

Supporters

  • The Committee for Pension Fairness sponsored this initiative.
  • Ventura County Taxpayers Association
  • Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy

Arguments in favor

Proponents argued that the current pension system was not sustainable and was bringing the county further and further into debt. This, they posited, caused pension costs to skyrocket, which was taking funds away from important public services. They also argued that many pension payouts were exorbitant.[5]

David Grau of the Committee for Pension Fairness, concerning the rising pension costs of the county, said, “This impacts all residents of Ventura County. We’re trying to create a fair and sustainable system for everyone going forward instead of pushing the debt onto our grandchildren, our goal is to eliminate the $1-billion liability over time.”[5]

Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy was an advocate for pension reform, and some unions in the county called for his removal from the county pension board because he supported the pension reform initiative. He said, regarding the arguments that the pension plan alterations would discourage quality public safety officers from working in the county, “That’s the argument everyone wants to make. I don’t believe that at all. Young deputies, especially, are more concerned about what you pay them. (The measure) is not saying you’re not going to get a pension. The pension is in a different format.” Foy also said that the pension system in place may be causing shortchanges to public safety, schools and libraries because of how much of the budget was taken up by county contributions to the pension fund. Foy said, “It’s getting very expensive. (The measure) is a tremendous step forward in getting financial control going forward for new employees. It’s the right thing to do.”[5]


Supervisor Peter Foy, "Taxpayers Fight Ventura's $300,000 Government Retirement Pay," February 7, 2014

Jim McDermott, of Ventura County Taxpayers Association, said, "People are so excited that finally somebody is going to do something about this problem. I'm pretty confident that we are going to follow in the success that we've seen in San Diego and San Jose. We're going to be successful without question."[21]

McDermott went on to criticize a common argument against the initiative, namely, that the county would be unable to competitively hire and retain quality employees. He said, "Well, that's just nonsense. Somehow the private sector throughout the country has attracted and retained great talent with the 401k-type system, so I have no doubt that we'll be able to attract and retain top quality talent. And there's nothing in our initiative that limits the board of supervisors' ability to raise compensation if that's necessary, but the value is that it would be transparent compensation."[21]

Editorials

The Pacific Coast Business Times editorial board published an article praising the proposed initiative and claiming that the changes featured in the proposed measure should be implemented widely across California. The editorial board proposed that the system provided by the initiative would benefit employees because their retirement system would actually consist of real wealth that could be passed on to heirs, rather than disappearing as soon as they are dead. The editorial also blamed the generous wages and benefits of the public sector for creating housing problems and criticized them as unfair compared to private-sector workers. In part, the article read:[22]

  • Pension reform is necessary, but transition rules will have to be made clear and fair. The best argument in favor of a 401(k)-syle system is that retirees actually get to create an estate and pass it along to heirs rather than collect a pension that vanishes when they and their spouse pass away.
  • Ventura County is at the leading edge of something that should become a broader movement. Its pension reforms will simply lead to a brain drain if they are not followed by similar shifts in large cities such as Oxnard and Simi Valley or wealthy communities like Thousand Oaks.

We've been in a vicious cycle where public employee wages and benefits have outstripped those in the private sector, creating a pernicious housing bubble and built-in inefficiencies. The old paradigm that public employees got lower pay but better benefits has been broken for years. In too many communities in our region, public employees are able to afford homes because they are earning above-average wages while the private sector struggles with low wages and high housing costs. [16]

Pacific Coast Times Business Journal editorial board[22]

Supervisor Peter Foy

City unions claimed that County Supervisor Peter Foy, who was a strong advocate of the pension reform initiative, should not be allowed on the county pension board while he supported the reform initiative. In response, the other County Supervisors delayed reappointing him to the board. Ultimately, however, they did not listen to the unions and reappointed Foy to the pension board.[23][24]

Opposition

Opponents

Most city unions opposed the initiative, including the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association and the Ventura County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

Other prominent opponents were:

  • Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean
  • The Citizens for Retirement Security, a group of Ventura County employees and residents, was formed to opposed the initiative.[25]

Arguments against

Those who opposed the measure dismissed the claims that pension expenses were taking money away from county operations and services as unfounded and exaggerated. Moreover, they claimed the pension plan changes would make it harder to competitively hire and retain public safety officer, lowering the quality of service in the county.[5]

Sheriff Geoff Dean was among these critics of the initiative and thought the dangers of pension debt were being blown out of proportion. He said, “The county has done an outstanding job managing its budget. It has the highest bond rating possible." He went on to criticize the initiative itself, arguing that it would hurt public safety, rather than help it since the altered pension benefits would make the county less attractive to quality public service officers. He said, “It’ll certainly be detrimental to my ability to try to recruit and retain qualified people. It’s really not a good idea, especially in the area of public safety.”[5]

Union activist Rick Shimmel said, concerning the initiative, "I think it's ideologically driven by people who simply don't believe that there should be a pension system for public employees, period. We don't see the 401k as a pension plan. We see it as a savings vehicle to help people during their retirement years. 401ks carry no guarantee, and that's the distinction between a defined-contribution system and defined-benefit system."[21]

Path to the ballot

The Committee for Pension Fairness, supported by the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, filed this initiative on January 16, 2014, and planned to begin circulating signature petitions on February 6, 2014.[5] The petitioners needed to collect 26,000 valid signatures by May 16, 2014, to qualify their initiative for the November 4, 2014 ballot. On April 23, 2014, the committee turned in over 40,500 signatures to the county clerk. After an investigation, the county clerk verified that there were more than enough valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. Given only two options by law, county supervisors voted four against one to put the initiative before voters rather than enacting it themselves. Supervisor Peter Foy was the only one that was in favor of enacting the initiative directly.[26][4]

Protesters

On February 8, 2014, the Committee for Pension Fairness and other supporters of the Ventura County pension reform initiative were trying to collect signatures for their initiative but were met by opponents of the initiative protesting against the measure and trying to persuade voters against signing the petition. About 50 people opposed to the measure showed up with signs and loud voices at Home Depots in Simi Valley, Newbury Park and Camarillo, where initiative petitioners were attempting to collect signatures. These protesters, including Sheriff Geoff Dean, one of the most outspoken initiative opponents, called the petition misleading and draconian in an effort to dissuade potential signers.[27]

Reports and analyses

Reason Foundation Report

The Committee for Pension Fairness, which was behind the Ventura County initiative to overhaul the public pension system, commissioned a report on the fiscal impact of the initiative from Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based libertarian research organization. The report claimed that the initiative, if enacted, would have saved county taxpayers $460 million over 15 years and eliminate the county's pension debt. David Grau, a spokesman for the committee, said, "It's a very strong argument for reform."[28][29][2]

The full report can be read here.

Critics

Steve Bennett, chairman of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, was skeptical of the report because it was commissioned by the committee behind the initiative and authored by initiative supporters. Speaking about Reason Foundation on March 27, 2014, he said, “They have a point of view. I wouldn’t call it unbiased or even extremely credible in many instances.” He also said that, while the foundation was perfectly justified in giving their opinion on the initiative, he was waiting for the official analysis of the financial impact of the initiative commissioned by the county from Segal Consulting. This report was set to be released and submitted to the county board of supervisors sometime in April.[28]

The Citizens for Retirement Security, a group of Ventura County employees and residents opposed to the initiative, responded to the study saying, "Clearly, the proponents of this expensive initiative scheme are afraid of the facts from the independent review of their measure by the county, so they're trying to cook the books in advance."[25]

Similar measures

See also

External links

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Basic information

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Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 KCLU, "Judge Rules Controversal Ventura County Pension Reform Proposal Must Be Removed From Ballot," August 4, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ventura County Taxpayers Association website, "More than 40,500 Venturans Support Ballot Measure," April 23, 2014
  3. Ballotpedia staff writer Josh Altic, "Phone interview with Paul Jacob," April 24, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ventura County Star, "Voter drive for county pension measure to start Thursday," February 3, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Thousand Oaks Acorn, "Taxpayer group trying to get reform measure on November ballot," January 23, 2014
  6. Citizen's Journal, "VCTA Endorses County Committee for Pension Fairness," January 16, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Thousand Oaks Acorn, "Group threatens lawsuit to block pension reform," June 12, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Moorpark Acorn, "Will pension measure appear on the ballot?" June 26, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Public CEO, "Can Local Voters Phase Out County Pensions?" June 30, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Calpensions, "Ventura pension vote blocked, summit this fall?," August 11, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System (SCERS) website, "SCERS Website Handbook: California Counties' Retirement Systems," accessed July 25, 2014
  12. Note: San Francisco County and City has its own system, as well as contracting with CalPERS, and is thus counted twice, once under option one and again under option two.
  13. BreitBart.com, "CALIFORNIA UNIONS SCRAMBLE AS LOCAL VOTERS POISED TO ELIMINATE PUBLIC PENSIONS," July 1, 2014
  14. City Journal, "Rebuked Again," August 25, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 Heartland.org, "Judge Blocks Popular California Pension Reform Initiative," August 29, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  17. Full Text of the Initiative, accessed January 24, 2014
  18. Committee for Pension Fairness website, "About the Initiative," accessed January 24, 2014
  19. Committee For Pension Fairness, "Pension Facts," accessed January 24, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Public CEO, "VENTURA SPAT SPARKED PENSION SHIFT," January 28, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Fox News, "California sheriff who says $276,000 pension not enough fuels push for reform," February 20, 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 Pacific Coast Business Times, "Editorial: Ventura County pension reform moves closer to a vote," April 25, 2014
  23. VC Star, "Ventura County supervisors delay reappointing Foy to pension board," January 28, 2014
  24. Ventura County Star, "Foy stays on county pension board," February 11, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 Pacific Coast Times, "Reason study: Taxpayers would save $460M with pension overhaul," March 28, 2014
  26. Ventura County Taxpayers Association website, "Supervisors put pension initiative on ballot, call it illegal," June 17, 2014
  27. Moorpark Acorn, "Protestors take aim at pension reform," February 14, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 Ventura County Star, "Pension study predicts major savings if initiative passes," March 27, 2014
  29. Reason Foundation, "Ventura County Pension Reform Would Save $460 Million, Reduce Debt $1.8 billion!,"