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POLL: Sound Off on Governor's Pension Reform Plan

Jerry Brown says the proposal would make public retirement benefits lower than when he took office in 1975.

Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a proposed overhaul of the state pension system Tuesday, saying it would save billions of dollars and require state workers to pay at least half of their pension costs.

But the plan was met with criticism from conservatives and liberals alike. Republican leaders said the plan was a step in the right direction, but didn't go far enough. Union officials called the proposals a betrayal and hinted at legal action.

At a Los Angeles news conference, Brown said the pension proposals "make fundamental changes that rein in costs and help to ensure that our public retirement system is sustainable for the long term." 

To read the Brown's press release on the plan, click here.

"These reforms require sacrifice from public employees and represent a significant step forward," he said. "If the Legislature approves these reforms, public retirement benefits will be lower than when I took office in 1975. Additional changes would require a vote of the people." 

The governor's proposal caps at $110,100 the salary amount that can be used to calculate pension payouts for retirees who collect Social Security. For those who don't collect Social Security, the amount is roughly $130,000.

The proposal also requires all new employees to contribute 50 percent of their pension costs. The requirement would also apply to current employees, subject to union negotiations.

The retirement age would be pushed back by two years for new employees. 

According to the governor's office, workers who retire at age 62 would receive 2 percent of their highest annual salary for every year worked, but the rate would increase to 2.5 percent for people who retire at age 67.

Police and fire department employees would receive 2.7 percent at age 57.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) said the proposal represents a scaling back of the Democratic governor's 12-point pension plan introduced earlier this year. 

"The details of this new arrangement between him and legislative Democrats remain foggy," Huff said. "One thing that is clear is that the governor has settled for far less than the comprehensive overhaul he sought out to achieve."

Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) said that although Brown claims the proposal would save the state $18 billion to $30 billion over the next few decades, "the state's unfunded pension and retiree health care liability is in the hundreds of billions of dollars."

"While this is a small step in the right direction, we are disappointed that this plan does not address those liabilities in any meaningful way,'' she said. 

Bob Schoonover, president of Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents city and county workers from Riverside to Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, said he was still analyzing the proposal to determine its impact on workers.

"However, we do know that elements of this package address issues that should be negotiated at the bargaining table, not in the back rooms of the state Legislature," he said. "Our members have sacrificed so much over the past few years in order to help balance city and county budgets.''

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, hailed the proposal.

"We will outlaw the most objectionable pension practices, impose a cap on the maximum value of pensions and generate the long-term savings that will ensure the fiscal health of state and local pensions,'' he said.

-- City News Service

Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
OLD CHIEF Here are some of the cities going or in bankruptcy. It is not just Ca. By the way, these cities did not pass Prop. 13.... lol lol In August 2011, Central Falls, RI declared bankruptcy. Located north of Providence, it's the state's poorest municipality. In 2010, it entered receivership. Major concessions were made. In February 2010, Central Falls High School fired all 74 teachers and 19 staff. It was part of a "turnaround plan." It never materialized. Deep concessions accompanied rehiring. Greater ones followed bankruptcy. In March 2011, Boise County, Idaho filed for protection. It did so to buy time to figure out how to pay creditors. In October 2009, Prichard, AL declared bankruptcy for the second time. Mayor Ron Davis just finished paying creditors from its 1999 filing. He released a statement saying other options weren't viable. Large and smaller US cities are troubled short of bankruptcy. They include New York, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bell, CA, Detroit, Pontiac, Cincinnati, Honolulu, Washington, Newark, Camden, Paterson, Harrison and Salem, NJ, Gary, IN, Redding, PA, Joliet and Riverdale, IL, Hamtramck, MI, and others.
Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Same goes for the U.S.A. If you don't have the money, don't spend it!! The citizens of the country are not the politicians piggy bank.
Dr. Zillman October 03, 2012 at 05:13 AM
For Mr. Greet: http://www.lacera.com/investments/Annual_Report/cafr_2011/CAFR2011_statistical.pdf Take a look at page 100. OVER HALF of the pension dollars paid to safety retirees are DISABILITY PAYMENTS. These payments are tax-free. In LA County's system disability pensions are capped at 50% of final salary. If a retiree would otherwise qualify for say a 70% pension but retires on disability, he/she would collect 50% non-taxable and 20% taxable.
Dr. Zillman January 06, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Mr. Greet, does that clarify my comment regarding 4850? Old Chief?
Old Chief January 07, 2013 at 07:52 PM
The California city I worked for retired me on disability (without my consent) and it was most gut-wrenching. I worked and had shared all aspects of my life for over 20 years with men I admired and could trust with my life; a band of brothers; a family. I finally took a job as a fire chief on the east coast. I'm now again reluctantly retired after a total of thirty five years and many injuries. During my career, I've had many arthroscopic surgeries to both knees, shoulder, and elbow; replacements of both knees, and a hip; ligament reconstruction of a knee. I have chronic pain in my neck since a fire in 1980, and chronic back pain since another of 1974 (I go in for another prednisone shot to the spine tomorrow). I've had two operations for cancer which were deemed "probably" related to my fire service. So you think all the others on 4850 and I have cut a fat hog with a tax free retirement; some undeserved astronomical amount from the taxpayers no doubt? Well Doc, my pension is less than $50,000 for those thirty five years, but you are right, it is tax free. It takes at least two doctors to agree that a public employee is disabled and can no longer work, and one of those must be an impartial who has never treated the employee. Does that mean that no one ever scams the system? I knew of few firefighters who didn't have serious injuries at one time or other.

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