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Judge Allows Adachi Pension, Health Care Reform Measure Onto Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KCBS) - A San Francisco Superior Court judge Monday agreed to let a city pension and health care reform measure promoted by Public Defender Jeff Adachi onto the city's November ballot.

Proposition B seeks to raise city worker contributions to their pension plans to between 9 and 10 percent and to have employees pay half of their dependants' health care costs.

Proponents argue that with city pension and health care costs skyrocketing, their reforms would save the city more than $165 million per year.

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A San Francisco civil grand jury estimated earlier this year that costs could reach nearly $1 billion per year in five years.

Opponents have maintained that the health care increases would unfairly burden workers with hundreds of dollars more per month in payments for coverage for their children.

A coalition of city workers represented by firefighter, police, service worker and other unions sued to have the measure removed from the Nov. 2 ballot. They argued proponents violated election laws while seeking to place the measure on the ballot.

In his ruling Monday, Judge Harold Kahn dismissed all but one of the plaintiffs' allegations. He agreed that a "poison pill" section of the measure would be stricken.

That language would have imposed a five-year cap on city employee bargained compensation if the initiative passes and an employee successfully challenges the measure in court.

It was inserted because of worries that unions would seek to negotiate higher pay in order to make up the losses from the pension and health care contributions, according to Darcy Brown, spokesperson for SF Smart Reform, which is pushing the measure.

Both sides released statements Monday hailing Kahn's decisions.

Adachi called it "an important victory for the people of this city."

Stand Up For Working Families, the group opposing the measure, said in a statement that Kahn's poison pill ruling was "unprecedented" in its removal of language from a ballot initiative.

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