LOS ANGELES — The authors of a California pension reform initiative are unhappy with the title and summary written by state Attorney General Kamala Harris and plan to file a revised version.
"If will be a completely new initiative - as if the other one doesn't exist," said former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
Reed, a Democrat, and former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio, a Republican, filed an initiative in June that would require any changes to pension benefits for state and local government workers be pre-approved by voters.
The duo are unhappy with the title and summary Harris' office placed on the measure in early August.
"If you look at the title and summary issued by the Attorney General, it is extremely negative," said Reed, who currently works as special counsel at Hopkins & Carley, a law firm. "We think it is inaccurate, and unfair, and politically written."
Reed and DeMaio announced plans to conduct a "legal review" of the title and summary, her office's abbreviated description of ballot measures, soon after it was released in early August.
They still might file a lawsuit, Reed said, but the priority now is to write a new version that better emphasizes that the measure would only impact future employees, not existing ones.
The initiative's supporters would not pull the existing measure, but just put signature-gathering efforts behind the revised version, Reed said.
"It does re-start the clock," Reed said, which means proponents are starting from scratch. The new version will have to be analyzed by the legislative analyst's office and receive a title and summary from the attorney general's office, before they could begin collecting the roughly 500,000 signatures needed.
Voters are getting the mistaken impression that the initiative would change benefits for existing employees when it is focused on new employee benefits, Reed said.
The authors are working with the four other proponents and members of the coalition to rewrite it to make that more clear. But Reed wouldn't go into much detail about what the new initiative will look like, merely saying it is being drafted by a statewide coalition, so it takes time to reach an agreement on language.
They are still aiming for the November 2016 election.
"We are trying to empower voters to be a check and balance to prevent elected officials from making bad decisions," Reed said. "That is what we are still trying to do.
This year's effort is Reed's second stab at pension reform. The clock ran out on a 2013 effort. An appeals court failed to rule before election day on whether Harris should change the title and summary.
The initiative's supporters also might still file a lawsuit on this incarnation of the measure, but Reed said "lawsuits take time and money."