|February 5, 2010
Thank You for Your Support on Reform Proposals
I want to thank you all for your vocal support of my proposals to reform MUNI and pension. Your words of encouragement let me know exactly how important these issues are to you and other hardworking San Franciscans. Below are updates on each of the measures:
MUNI Reform Rolls to a Stop as Salaries Increase and Service Cuts Loom
Yesterday, I asked the Rules Committee to table my proposal regarding MUNI operators’ salaries despite my belief that guaranteeing MUNI drivers the second highest wage in the country is bad policy and practice. I realized at the outset the long odds I faced in this endeavor. Moreover, the proposal, as is often the case with legislation I introduce, would provide long term benefits, as opposed to immediate short term gains. Understanding that (1) we need to immediately address our MUNI deficit, (2) the Charter proposal would not have an effective date until June 2011, and that (3) the proposal itself could prevent immediate concessions from the Transit Workers to help this year's deficit, I believed that setting the proposal aside was the best course of action.
I am however strengthened in my resolve to continue to working on this issue by the tremendous outpouring of support I received from hundreds of MUNI riders frustrated that services will be reduced while bus drivers’ salaries increase- a projected $8 million dollar increase next year alone. I am proud of my work on MUNI reform and will continue to look for ways to assist MTA balance the $16 million midyear deficit and $60 million projected budget deficit.
I look forward to seeing what concessions MUNI operators will offer to MTA to balance the budget, so that the cost of their salary increases are not unduly born by MUNI riders and other MTA employees.
Pension Reform Moves to Full Board with Poison Pill Amendments
Yesterday, the Rules Committee also considered my pension reform proposal which was projected to result in cost-savings for the City of $450 million over 25 years. Unfortunately, Supervisor Eric Mar introduced two amendments that would gut the proposal- reducing the impact of the reforms and dramatically driving up costs for the City.
Supervisor Mar’s amendments will exacerbate the exact problems that I intended to address with this legislation. His first amendment reduces the three-year average for calculating final pension to a two-year average- more than halving the savings from that provision. His second amendment guarantees 11,000+ current city employees seven percent raises in exchange for agreeing to make contributions to the City’s retirement system, which they currently do not do. While the Controller is currently determining the exact cost to the City, initial estimates are in the area of $10 million annually. To compound the impact of this disastrous amendment, overall pension costs will also increase substantially; our City's actuary is currently valuing the harm that could be done if this amendment is approved.
On February 23, the Board of Supervisors will have the opportunity to consider my pension proposal, which will save the City money, as well as Supervisor Mar’s ill-advised and ill-conceived amendments that will make the City’s financial situation worse. I will vigorously oppose any attempts to weaken my proposal or amend my legislation in any way that results in additional costs to the City.
I appreciate your continued support of my efforts to address the long-term financial health of the City, and look forward to working with you in the future on this and other important legislation.
Sean R. Elsbernd
Member, Board of Supervisors