Next Tuesday, Cincinnati voters will decide Issue 4, a charter amendment petitioned onto the ballot by a citizens’ group called Cincinnati for Pension Reform (CPR).
If passed, the initiative will put newly hired city employees into a 401(k)-style retirement program, while protecting the pensions of current city retirees and workers through annual audits, publicly reported results, and requiring the city to take steps to close any fund deficit.
The Queen City’s public pension system is in deep trouble. Even by the city’s rosy accounting, it’s only 61 percent funded, with a whopping unfunded liability of $862 million. Moody’s recently downgraded the city’s credit rating, specifically because of its pension liabilities.
Nonetheless, Issue 4 faces fierce opposition from a group “primarily funded” by government workers’ unions. “In just two weeks,” reports the Cincinnati Enquirer, “the committee raised $207,970 . . . It received contributions from only two individuals, totaling $750, including a $500 contribution from former acting Cincinnati city manager and current Dayton city manager Tim Riordan.”
Jeff Harmon, president of a union representing 850 city workers said, “This measure is going to lead to higher taxes and possible lawsuits for the city and would potentially bankrupt Cincinnati.”
Why would actually funding the promises the city has already made to workers “lead to higher taxes” or “bankrupt Cincinnati”?
Who would file those “possible lawsuits”? It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is a polite way of saying: If you don’t vote the way we want, we’ll sue.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.