Jen Lebron Kuhney of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reported that the California Supreme Court has shown an interest in examining the effort to invalidate San Diego’s voter-approved pension reform initiative, and if the court takes up the case it could cut out weeks — if not years — of legal battles.
Proponents of the measure unsuccessfully pushed for the 4th District Court of Appeals to consolidate cases against it as well as skip board hearings by a state board and asked the Supreme Court to look at the legal issues surrounding the initiative.
Employee unions have said city leaders violated state law by helping craft Proposition B as a citizen’s initiative, side-stepping the city’s legal obligation to negotiate with labor over benefit changes. Proposition B calls for replacing pensions with 401(k)-style plans for most new city hires and proposes a five-year freeze on the pensionable pay of current employees. Two-thirds of voters approved the measure June 5.
Supporters of the initiative saw the Supreme Court’s request for additional information this week as a positive sign after labor scored two separate legal victories against the measure earlier this month.
The legal issues began in February when an initial review by the state Public Employees Relation Board found there was “reasonable cause” to believe the law may have been broken. The board sought a court injunction to block the measure from appearing on the June ballot, but it was denied. The city was able to successfully delay the PERB administrative hearings until after the public vote.
On June 19, the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal ruled the “trial court erred” by delaying the PERB proceedings and that they should proceed. The next hearing is scheduled for July 17.