San Jose's city hall. Voters in the California city today are considering slashing public employee pensions in a ballot initiative that could set a precedent for other cities. - 

David Brancaccio:  Today in San Jose, California, voters will decide whether to adopt limits on the costs of pensions for city employees.

As Peter Jon Shuler reports from station KQED, local governments around the country are keeping a close eye on the outcome.

Peter Jon Shuler: San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has been pushing pension reform for months. He says retirement costs have tripled in the last decade.

Chuck Reed: Which have driven us to cut services year after year. We're draining money out of services and pouring into retirements.

The measure would require workers to pay more into their retirement funds, or opt into a less generous plan. But city employees say they would rather negotiate a solution than decide it at the ballot box.

Fifty-four-year-old Cheryl Wessling says the measure has already taken a serious toll on morale.

Cheryl Wessling: Perhaps I'd have to look at either a second jobs or I'd have to consider finding a job that pays better.

Cities across California face the same pension problems. Experts say if the San Jose measure passes, other cities are likely to follow suit.

I'm Peter Jon Shuler for Marketplace.