But current workers could still use their best year's salary, as Isaacs did. A longtime employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Isaacs received a 23% raise when he transferred from a principal's job in 2005 to create and lead a charter school in Van Nuys.
In 2006, he got a 35% boost — to $185,000. That helped push his annual pension from the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which he began collecting in 2007, to $215,194. Isaacs is 67 and again heading an LAUSD school while he receives those benefits.
Attorneys for Pellissier's group say they believe the state can legally change benefits for current workers if it can argue it's necessary to prevent abuses or is needed because the pension system is in financial crisis.
"If you are in dire financial straits, if its preventing you from providing basic government services, if you have tried reasonable alternatives — all of which is true here — then you can alter" the terms, said Chapman University law professor John Eastman.
Pellissier said the governor should extend the three-year rule to all public workers, as his group's potential ballot measure would.
"If spiking is bad for everyone," he said, "why are we excluding current employees?''