Sustainable Retirement System Initiative (proposed for November 2014 ballot)
Type of reform:
The initiative would change the pension system for new hires and new employees from a defined benefit plan to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. It would also limit pension-based salary increases for five years.
Edward J. Lacey et al. v. Mark A. Lunn et al., No. 56-2014-00454309-CU-WM-VTA, California Superior Court, Ventura County (filed June 17, 2014)
Status of litigation:
After receiving more than 26,000 supporting signatures (the requisite number), the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted on June 17, 2014, to put the initiative on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot. Despite having voted to include the measure on the November ballot, city counsel Leroy Smith wrote a 21-page memo in which he explained that the measure was illegal and would not survive a legal challenge. Specifically, Smith asserted that because the county had joined the state system under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937, only state legislation could alter the county pension system. On June 17, 2014, the Citizens for Retirement Security filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiative under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937.
On Aug. 4, 2014, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew ruled that the ballot initiative could not be used to withdraw the county from the state pension system. Judge Kellegrew ruled that in order to withdraw from the state system, the proponents of reform would have to go through the state Legislature. The judge stayed his decision until Aug. 14, 2014, to allow the proponents time to appeal the decision before the August 22 deadline for printing the ballots. Proponents have announced that they will not appeal the decision.