Mayor Chuck Reed sat down with the Wall Street Journal for a Q&A article published today, and the responses were strikingly similar to the State of the City Address he delivered last Thursday.
Again calling San Jose’s unfunded liability for employee pensions the city’s biggest threat and comparing it to “a cancer,” Reed says Gov. Jerry Brown would be wise to focus on state employee benefits and retirement packages rather than Redevelopment Agencies.
The mayor also pointed out that a 10 percent pay-cut across the board for city employees would only account for trimming a third of the city’s $110 million budget.
According to the WSJ writer, the worst San Jose can expect is libraries will close and street lights will be turned off at night. Reed said that was just a start.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the worst-case scenario,” he said. “That’s the most probable scenario.”
At no point did Reed or the interviewer use the word “layoffs,” although they are all but guaranteed.
Having spent the past 10 years as mayor and part of the city council, Reed did accept some blame for approving pension and retirement plans for police and firefighters, which have put the city in its current predicament.
But Reed added that the problem, or tumor, if you will, pre-dates his political career.
“It started long ago and grew very slowly, but now it’s in an aggressive, high-growth phase,” he said. “We need to act now.”