Our budgets must be both fiscally responsible and economically sustainable, which is why in September of 2013 he introduced the Pay Down the Debt Act, a measure to reduce the national debt by requiring a negotiated budget compromise if debt begins growing faster than the national economy.
In addition, Scott introduced the Protect America’s Credit Act, because global faith in America’s credit is paramount. The legislation would prevent the economic instability caused by an unnecessary debate in Congress over whether to pay America’s bills. The bill would automatically increase the debt limit each year in proportion to the country’s economic growth, ensuring we can keep improving without letting debt outrun our economy.
Members of Congress should be held to the same standard as every other worker in America, and if they don’t do their job, they shouldn’t get paid. Scott cosponsored the Stop Pay for Members Act to suspend pay for Members of Congress until the debt limit was increased and require Congress to attend to all other obligations of the US government before receiving pay in the event that the debt ceiling was reached.
When partisan gridlock shut down the federal government, Scott refused to keep his paycheck as well. Instead, he donated it back to local San Diego charities.
Keeping Congress accountable means transparency, too. Scott cosponsored the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which would require the Government Printing Office to operate a website where the public could have access to all congressionally mandated reports – such as fundraising reports – in one place.
To reduce wasteful government spending, Scott cosponsored the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act, a bipartisan effort to reduce costs by directing the Office of Management and Budget to reduce governmental travel by 50%.
Scott also voted to restrict frivolous spending by government departments on conferences, and to require public transparency for government spending on such events.
Protected Taxpayers by Eliminating Charger Ticket Guarantee: In the 1990s, the City Council agreed to guarantee the sale of a minimum number of tickets to Charger games, putting the city budget on the line for the success of its football team. Scott’s council eliminated that provision in 2003.
Reformed Port Finances: The year that Scott became a Port Commissioner was the first in memory that Port expenses exceeded revenues. The Commission acted, cutting the workforce 15% through attrition and early retirement incentives to save the Port $26 million. Scott consolidated departments and eliminated management excess, including reducing the number of vice presidents from 13 to 6. The Port accomplished these real reforms together with its employees, without a single layoff or lawsuit.
Ended Pension Under-funding: As a City Councilman, Scott ended the 30-year-old practice of pension under-funding at the City of San Diego, a budgeting practice that began in the 1980s to balance the budget by under-funding the city retiree pension system; after 2008, pension payments declined as a percentage of the city budget because of these actions.
Achieved $350 million in pension-debt savings and eliminated costly benefits: As a City Councilmember, Scott secured $350 million in pension debt savings by working with employees in 2004 and 2005 to reach an agreement that froze pay and required city employees to contribute more of their own pay to fund their benefits. In the same negotiations, Scott eliminated – for all employees hired after July 1, 2006 – the unpopular DROP program, the “13th check,” and purchase of service credits program that was created in 1996. This was real progress, achieved at the bargaining table in partnership with employees, not the illusion of pension savings offered by speculative litigation or ballot measures that will lead to litigation and delay.
Negotiated a More Affordable Benefit Structure for New Employees: In 2008, there were calls to eliminate city pensions at the ballot box, but city employees were adamant about preserving their existing benefits. Scott knew that most employees, who don’t get Social Security, had modest pensions, averaging $36,000 per year after 30 years of work. He also knew that the City would still have to reduce those benefits to be able to afford them into the future. So as Council President, Scott worked with the Mayor and employees to create a new benefit structure that provided modest retirement benefits, but at a lower cost to the city. When fully implemented, the new structure will save the city over $22 million per year. These real savings Scott negotiated were reached without a lawsuit or layoff, and without the expense and uncertainty of a costly ballot measure.
Accelerated pay-off of pension debt: While on the City Council, Scott placed Proposition G before the voters in 2004, which created accelerated pay-off period for pension debt to eliminate negative amortization of the pension debt. For years, the City had been artificially lowering its pension debt by using overly aggressive accounting methodologies. Prop G established a maximum allowable amortization period that was more responsible and more accountable.
Reformed the makeup of the pension board: The pension board was criticized because a majority of its members had pensions in the system they governed. This created a perceived conflict of interest, so Scott supported Proposition H, which was approved by voters in 2004. It reformed the pension board to be controlled by a majority of private citizens with no personal interest in the pension system, creating more confidence in the board’s decisions.
Retiree Health Care Trust Fund: In the 1980s, then Mayor Pete Wilson and the City Council guaranteed city employees lifetime health care in exchange for getting them to give up Social Security. Then they instituted the “waterfall,” a financial practice of using a portion of the pension system earnings to pay for health care. That diversion of assets from the pension fund is the single biggest contributor to our pension deficit. As Council President, Scott stopped the practice of funding retiree healthcare from pension system assets by creating a retiree healthcare trust fund. This new trust fund will help restore the integrity of the pension fund and will ensure accountability for future health care costs.
Safeguarded Local Tax Revenues on the Commission for Tax Policy in the New Economy: Scott was appointed by the Governor to be a representative to this commission, charged with reviewing our 20th century tax system in the 21st century economy. One recommendation, which evolved into 2004 statewide ballot measure Proposition 1A, protected local tax revenues from any further raids by the state legislature, so we can dedicate that money to local police, fire, and neighborhoods.
Passed the Transnet Extension: Few issues are more vexing to San Diegans than traffic, yet the 1/2¢ sales tax that funded so many of our road and transit improvements was set to expire in 2008. Scott knew that if we lost that income, San Diegans would notice reduced service. He also knew that we had to present a plan San Diegans would embrace if we were to get them to vote to extend the tax. Scott was deeply involved in creating the package of improvements put before the voters in 2004, and raised more money for the campaign than any other elected official. The passage of Transnet II, with only 3000 votes to spare countywide, made $14 billion available to the region for investments in roads and mass transit.