If all goes as scheduled, the Jacksonville City Council will vote on whether to enact Mayor Lenny Curry‘s pension reform package later this month.
Curry’s political committee wants to ensure the affirmative case for Curry’s audacious pension reform is heard.
To that end, the first spots in what is expected to be a six-figure ad buy from “Build Something That Lasts” hit Jacksonville airwaves and digital space this Friday morning.
The timing is purposeful: with the Jacksonville City Council expected to hold a “committee of the whole” meeting Wednesday afternoon, locals are encouraged in the spot to call the council and voice their support for the deal.
The 60 second commercial distills the complicated message of pension reform into digestible terms and concepts.
Curry notes that the resounding victory in the August sales tax referendum gave the city necessary “resources to eliminate nearly $3B in debt.”
“The final step is a vote by City Council,” Curry continues. “In addition to the half-penny, our reforms end the pension system that caused this crisis.”
The 401k styled pension plans, Curry adds, are just like those in the private sector.
“This ensures that we won’t have a pension crisis again,” Curry said.
With the budget relief created by pension savings, Curry noted that “investments in the city, and raises for our police and firefighters who’ve gone a decade without” would be imminent.
Indeed, the collective bargaining agreements offer 20 percent raises over three years to public safety workers, a long-deferred bump in compensation that will bring Jacksonville closer to other major metros in the state.
“I promised bold solutions to problems. This pension reform package keeps that promise,” Curry noted.
The City Council faces an untenable reality if the pension package is not voted through: a $360M pension related hit in next FY’s budget.
This year’s contribution was $290M.
Further escalations would come in time for the 2019 city elections, which would be a bloodbath for incumbents.
If reform does pass, the hit next year would be $218M — with the $290M number from this year not expected until the half-penny tax kicks in around 2031.
While there are council members who want deals for their districts, and specific promises in exchange for support, the reality is that if the pension reform does not pass, austerity budgets loom for years to come.
The Curry committee’s ad campaign is a reminder of that reality.