The State Worker

Tentative court order removes Ventura pension measure from ballot

A judge Monday issued a tentative ruling that removes a ballot measure to phase out Ventura County’s pension system, dimming prospects for similar efforts elsewhere.

The measure, backed by the Venture County Taxpayers Association, would put future Ventura County hires into a 401(k)-style retirement savings plan instead of the traditional defined-benefit plan covering current workers. The proposal would take effect for employees hired on or after July 1, 2015.

Pension-change proponents had predicted that the measure’s success would touch off similar county ballot proposals around the state. But Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew said the proposal violates a 77-year-old law that established a county pension system for Ventura, Sacramento, Los Angeles and 17 other counties statewide.

“There is nothing within the (law) that provides for withdrawal by an accepting county...” Kellegrew wrote, so placing an illegal measure on the ballot would be a waste of public resources.

That same law provides for “officers and employees” to exit the pension system by a majority-signed petition and a resolution by the county’s governing body. The law doesn’t allow current employees to keep their pensions while future hires come in under a different plan, however. Click here to read Government Code 31654.

The two sides were scheduled for oral arguments this morning. Judges rarely reverse their tentative rulings, however.

Lacy et al v.Lunn