California Judge Rules Against Pension Reductions

December 26, 2013 ( – A California judge has ruled that the pensions of employees for the city of San Jose cannot be reduced, according to news reports.

Judge Patricia Lucas of the Santa Clara County Superior Court found that due to California state law, the city of San Jose cannot require its employees to pay an additional 16% toward their pensions, says a news report from the New York Times. This ruling comes despite the 70% approval by voters in June 2012 of Measure B, which asked for these pension reductions.

The relevant portion of the measure would have required city employees, such as police officers, firefighters and others, to contribute more of their own money toward their pensions.

While the ruling by Lucas does not allow for reductions in the pensions of San Jose city employees, it does allow for voter-approved reductions in both salary and some health benefits, says a news report from Reuters, adding that the ruling apparently recognizes the city’s need to balance its budget.

San Jose’s mayor, Chuck Reed, expressed concern that the ruling (and the state law that supported it) gives California cities, counties and government agencies little flexibility to control pension-related costs, say the news reports.

This is not the first time San Jose has been in the news concerning pensions for city employees. In April 2012, an appellate court found that the city’s Measure B was unlawfully worded to sway voter support and advised that it be edited to feature more neutral, unbiased language (see “San Jose Pension Ballot Wording Unlawful”).