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City Pensions Could Change
Voters may be asked to decide if city workers in Cincinnati keep their current pension plans or move into plans like most people have in private business.
Cincinnati Tea Party members want to see city workers move into 401k plans or something similar. They say it will stop the city from going broke.
Tea Party members are already getting voters to sign petitions like this.
They're telling voters that Detroit going bankrupt and a downgrade of Cincinnati's bonds in part because of pension obligations the situation is even more urgent.
The biggest change would be to workers employed by the city beginning in 2014.
Instead of getting a defined benefit at retirement, a payment with a known amount each month, they'd have a 401k plan.
The charter amendment calls for current city workers to get a pension that's 60 percent of the average of their five highest paid years, and it reduces the cost of living increases for current retirees.
George Brunemann, President of the Southwest Cincinnati Tea Party says the situation is desperate.
"Without it the city will go bankrupt in 10 - 15 years."
Bentley Davis is the state director for the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans. This is her reaction to hearing about the Tea Party petition drive.
"I'm just kind of shocked. not fair and an odd thing to do in a city charter."
Brunemann says it needs to go to voters because politicians who benefit from the current pension system won't vote to change it.
Davis says future retirees especially would take a big hit.
"And the pension in Cincinnati is in lieu of social security. they don't pay in but as a result they don't get social security."
The local Tea Party is working with national members who have worked to make pension changes in other cities.
Voters have approved changes in San Diego, San Jose, Knoxville and Tucson among others.
In the California cities, voters passed it by a two to one margin.
"It will save San Jose billions."
"In Ohio we're 100 billion in future debt because of the pensions alone. You can't continue that way."
Two mayoral candidates have reacted Monday night.
John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls both say they don't support this plan.
Cranley says instead of scrapping the current system entirely he thinks less severe changes can be made like maybe pushing back the current retirement ages.
Qualls says the Tea Party plan would actually make things worse, and it doesn't take into account that city workers don't get social security or that some changes were already made in 2011, and she wants this addressed at a finance committee meeting next month.
The Tea Party hopes to get the pension amendment on the November ballot.
Right now Cincinnati has a $862 million unfunded pension liability.