In 1978, Howard Jarvis launched the U.S. anti-tax movement in California with Proposition 13, which capped annual increases in property taxes and kept people from being forced from their homes during real-estate bubbles. A generation later, the Golden State could be on the brink of launching another populist movement, one driven by anger over government compensation practices. A key battleground is San Diego. In June, voters will decide on Proposition B, the Comprehensive Pension Reform Initiative. It would end defined-benefit pensions for all new city hires except for police officers, instead providing pensions similar to 401(k)s. It would prevent pay sweeteners from being added to base salary when calculating pensions, and it would require city workers to pay a bigger share of their pension costs. Finally, Prop. B would mandate a five-year salary freeze.
That’s the lead of my new article on the City Journal site.
Whether [San Diego Councilman and mayoral frontrunner] Carl DeMaio becomes a twenty-first-century version of Howard Jarvis remains to be seen — but for now, in the Golden State, the young Republican has become the unions’ Public Enemy Number One.
I expect national attention to San Diego politics and its mayor’s race to build steadily. At least initially, this will be because of the headlines over Nathan Fletcher quitting the GOP and seeking the mayor’s job as an independent candidate. Eventually, however, the pension reform initiative, DeMaio’s determination to demolish the status quo, and the national resources that unions devote to beating DeMaio will become the bigger story.