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Governor Brown proposes major pension reforms

August 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Jerry Brown proposed major reforms Tuesday to the state's public pension system that he says will save taxpayers billions of dollars over time. Some people don't think the proposal makes sense.

It's not exactly what he wanted, but Gov. Brown promises that a proposed overhaul of the state's pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars.

At a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, Brown outlined the reform deal that he negotiated with legislative leaders. The provisions focus on the state's public pension system, which is underfunded by about $150 billion. Brown says the new plan would save the state anywhere from $18- to $30-billion.

"It will take public retiree benefits back to below where they were when I was governor the last time," said Brown.

But labor unions say they will fight to block the plan, which still needs to be ratified by the state legislature.

"This is a politically motivated deal that was put together in the dark of night. Labor did not have input on this, and we are very, very concerned about what this will mean for rank-and-file workers," said Barbara Maynard, Californians for Retirement Security.

Under the plan annual pension payments for new employees would be capped at $110,100. State workers not covered by Social Security would be capped at slightly more than $132,000.

New employees would also be made to contribute at least half their pension costs.

Also, public safety employees would see the minimum retirement age go from 50 to 57, while the retirement age for civil servants would go from 55 to 67.

Some union workers say that raising the age of retirement to 67 would be dangerous when it comes to certain professions.

"To have somebody using a jackhammer until they're 67 years old is going to have significant to their bodies," said Paula Ready, San Bernardino Public Employees Association.


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