The pension reform initiative will be on the city of San Diego’s June 2012 ballot.

The City Clerk’s Office verified this afternoon that backers had collected more than enough valid signatures to place the measure on the ballot. The initiative gives most city workers 401(k)s instead of pensions and attempts to impose a five-year pay freeze on current workers. Savings estimates top $1 billion over the next 27 years. Its supporters say its passage would end San Diego’s enduring pension crisis.

The county Registrar of Voters estimated that supporters of the measure had collected 20,000 more valid signatures than the 94,346 they needed to qualify the initiative, the Union-Tribune reported. The signature gathering campaign cost $1.1 million amid a coordinated campaign from local labor unions to keep people from signing the petition.

The measure is expected to be the central issue during the 2012 mayoral primary. The three major Republicans running, City Councilman Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, support the measure. DeMaio was one of its authors and has been most outspoken in his backing. Congressman Bob Filner, the lone high-profile Democrat in the race, opposes it.

Backers of the initiative were ebullient. Mayor Jerry Sanders, who also helped write the measure, told the Union-Tribune: “I’ve been in San Diego for more than 40 years and I can’t think of a ballot initiative more critical to our city’s future than this one. Hopefully, the voters will embrace it and approve it.”

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which has provided much of the analytical backing for the initiative, said it “will leverage all its resources” to secure its passage, in a press release.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

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Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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