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The 2013 Pension 40: Chuck Reed

Chuck Reed
San Jose

Chuck Reed, the Democratic mayor of San Jose, California, has fought hard for pension reform — no easy task for any leader of a U.S. city: Public sector unions fight fiercely to keep benefits intact, while residents fear that unhappy employees could jeopardize school and other services. Vietnam War veteran Reed, who won his second term in 2010, spearheaded last year’s referendum on slashing San Jose’s pension costs. Although 70 percent of voters approved the ballot measure, a court battle lies ahead. Reed, 65, has said that the lightbulb went on for him during his time as a city council member, when he realized how unsustainable many public pension funds had become. One of the former attorney’s favorite statistics: 20 percent of San Jose’s operating budget goes to retired workers. The city’s 2012 ballot measure included limits on pensions for new employees, a requirement that retirees pay a larger portion of health care premiums and the elimination of controversial pension bonuses that have dogged many plans, especially in the Golden State. Along with other California mayors, Reed is backing an initiative that would give the state’s pension plan power to change current employees’ benefits in the future. In October the onetime U.S.Air Force pilot, who has a JD from Stanford Law School, gave the keynote speech at a pensions seminar cohosted by the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research.

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