SAN FRANCISCO — Having already experienced a public employee pension-funding crisis, San Diego may emerge ahead of the reform curve as it works to clean up its financial house.

Suffering like many municipalities across the country from falling tax collections, the country’s ninth-largest city may change its pension system to mirror corporate 401(k) programs. That could help reduce its $2.1 billion in unfunded liabilities and tackle a long-term burden on the budget.

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