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Richard Riordan Pension Reform Plan One Step Closer To L.A. Ballot

See correction at the bottom.

See also:

*Richard Riordan Pension Reform Surprise.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan's effort to reform the city of L.A.'s exploding pension costs is one step closer to making the ballot.

The City Clerk's office late yesterday announced that Riordan's proposed initiative has qualified for signature gathering.

Riordan and friends have until until April 29 Dec. 7 to collect 265,151 valid signatures and turn them in:

If everything's kosher, the initiative could see the May 21 city ballot.

Riordan says the city's pension obligations have ballooned from $220 million in 2001 to as much as $1.2 billion today and that they could get to $3 billion by 2017, taking up half of L.A.'s budget.

It's a problem that even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a union man to the bone, and city budget honcho Miguel Santana have acknowledged in the past.

According to a story last month by LA Weekly's Hillel Aron, here's what Riordan's "New Defined Contribution Plan" wants to do:

The Riordan plan does three key things: forces people to contribute far more cash to their own retirement plans; places all future city hires -- but not current employees -- into a 401(k)-style system mimicking the private sector; and freezes automatic pension increases (now tied to salary increases) if the pension fund investments aren't doing well.

He'll surely see a fight from L.A.'s most powerful political force -- labor.

[Corrected at 12:58 p.m.]: It appears that the clerk's stated deadline of April 29 would be too late to make the May ballot.

It seems that the deadline for turning in signatures for a May election initiative is Dec. 7. A clerk's spokeswoman is double-checking.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]