STUMP » Articles » Public Pension-Related Ballot Measures: 2017 » 6 November 2017, 17:26

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Public Pension-Related Ballot Measures: 2017  


6 November 2017, 17:26

Here are all the pension-related ballot measures up for vote that I can find.


I’ve blogged about this before: New York State Proposal 2: Forfeiture of Pension of Criminal Officials

I wrote that on October 11, so here are relevant stories/links since then:

Ballotpedia page on the measure

Two items from that link: polling has support at 75%.

Here are two lovely quotes from the page as well:


Sen. Diane Savino (D-23) said that pensions are personal property and revoking them for bad behavior would set a troubling precedent. She added, “I think we go down a very bad road when we send a message that pensions can be taken away for behavior.”16

Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-32), one of the four senators to vote against referring the amendment in 2017, stated, “This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong. If I do something, then, yes, I go to jail. But then my wife is out on the street? Just to please the media?”10

I said what I had to say in my post on the measure. Also, I would keep an eye on those specific politicians.

This part of the Ballotpedia page was delicious:

Ballotpedia has not found media editorials opposing the measure. If you are aware of an editorial, please email it to

I also have found no op-eds or the like against the measure. Pretty sure this one will pass, lopsidedly.

More items:

And though this is only tangentially related to public pensions, there’s Ballot Measure #1, about holding a constitutional convention. I wrote about that here, but check out the Ballotpedia page on the item. Scroll all the way to the bottom to see the history going back to 1821. Note, specifically, which ones ended up with a new constitution being adopted – in general, the yes vote was extremely lopsided when the measure won.

Yeah, I don’t think that proposal is going anywhere.


Ballotpedia entry on this:

Maine Question 4, the Public Pension Unfunded Liabilities from Experience Losses Amendment, is on the ballot in Maine as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 7, 2017.1

A “yes” vote supports this amendment to increase from 10 years to 20 years the time required for the state to pay off the Maine Public Employees Retirement System’s (MainePERS) unfunded liabilities created by experience losses (i.e., losses resulting from the difference between expected performance and the actual outcome in investments).

A “no” vote opposes this amendment to increase from 10 years to 20 years the time required for the state to pay off MainePERS’s unfunded liabilities created by experience losses.

I haven’t covered Maine’s pensions, but I do not like this.

Looking at the state page for Maine, I see two pension plans in this system.

They are 100% ARC payers, with struggling funded ratios (both have managed to keep above 80%, so I expect a lot of references to 80% fundedness in stories on this matter). Their investment experience has not been good, even compared with peers, and their active-to-retired ratios are lower than average. They should have shorter amortization periods if they’re more weighted towards retired participants than active participants.

The Ballotpedia page shows no official opposition, and I’m not official, but NO. Lengthening the amortization period puts more leverage in the system, and you don’t want to end up like Illinois, do you? Yes, it costs to make up for losses faster.

Do it because it makes for a more stable pension fund.

Also, maybe y’all need to check out your investment management.

More items:

Well, though I don’t like it, I guess it’s likely to pass. Oh well.

Those are the only two state-wide pension-related ballot measures, according to Ballotpedia. Let’s see what I can find locally — Ballotpedia doesn’t really cover those issues as thoroughly as state level measures (for obvious reasons).


This one is interesting, because of the recent flooding.

I’ll let someone else explain.

Hurricane Harvey May Reshape Houston’s Future As City Takes On Pension Reform

The City of Houston has bet its future on a high-profile pension overhaul that now may face unexpected fallout from Hurricane Harvey.

When Houston and Texas lawmakers forged the city’s pension legislation last spring, their political calculus didn’t include a once-in-a-century storm. But as Houston gears up for a crucial vote on authorizing the issuance of pension and general obligation bonds, Hurricane Harvey might end up having an outsized impact on the city’s future.

As an off-year election and the first election with no elected officials on the ballot, turnout was expected to be anemic anyway, people tracking the referendums told Debtwire. Turnout now may be even weaker in the wake of Harvey, as citizens of the nation’s fourth-largest city slog through storm-related difficulties. Citizens struggling to rebuild their homes may not view a referendum as a top priority. And if they do, the prospect of $1 billion of additional debt may not be appetizing.

Yeah, that.

Other stories/op-eds on tomorrow’s Houston vote:

I hate pension obligation bonds, but this measure is part of a whole deal-making that went on earlier.

If these bonds fall through… well, I won’t anticipate. We’ll see what happens after election day.

Anyway, those are the public pension ballot proposals for tomorrow I could find. If you know of others (and the results from their vote tomorrow), please let me know!

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