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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

Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Sorry Doc, Times are very worrisome for most folks, both private sector employees and even more so for public sector employees. But most folks have the same jobs at the same compensations that they enjoyed five years ago. That being said, the middle class employees are ALL in the same boat regardless of attempts to divide them into the "them" camp and the "us" camp. "Too much", "too little", and "too fast", "too slow" are relative terms and simply opinions. CalPERS is not going bankrupt any time soon. Rather than panic and make some very stupid hasty decisions, try thinking about the consequences of emotional reactions to demigogory. California made such a ignorant choice when it passed Prop 13 and now you are number 48 in the states for education (ahead of only New Mexico and Mississippi). You were once at the top. Congratulations! Prop 13 also took away your ability to deal effectively with the current crisis. Don't repeat such knee-jerk stupidity. Let the established processes at the local levels work through the problems.
Anon September 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I can't find the post on my iPad but someone just blamed prop 13 for our fiscal problems, really? Did you know that California is on the Top 10 for highest property taxes in the country? What if we didn't have it? Do you think taxing homeowners to death is the fix? It isn't! Try again!
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I don't know what county you got that 70% 4850 figure from, but I could only find such stats from the Orange County Register which cited figures of less than 20%. And that paper is notoriously anti-public employee, as is their Republican readership.
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Well said and logical.
Joker Joe September 25, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Old Chief What you have said is ignorant about prop 13. If that prop did not come into play many, many homes would of been lost to politicians because they used the property tax as their piggy bank. Even now if you give Sacramento more and more money they will just spend it on useless projects. The train to nowhere comes to mine. If you think the politicians know how to spend your money better than you, by all means send them more. If you think you can do a better job spending your money then don't send them more. You get a chance to vote on raising your state taxes next month. As for schools and education, the more money you spend the more it is squandered. Check out what school drop outs are! Those kids are not dropping out because of prop 13. They have a house to live in because of prop 13. The parents or parent are not doing their job. The blame is placed on the teachers first and later the parents. You could flood the schools with money and it would not help one iota. A student can make more money selling drugs then having a real job. Why go to school? That is what they see.
John B. Greet September 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Yes. This is not, by any means, an uncommon experience for me when attempting to have a civil, intellectual, and fact-based discussion with others who have no interest in such a dialog. This by no means ruins my day, I simply find it rather sad.
Dr. Zillman September 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Mr. Greet: I have an interest in having a civil discussion as well. If I am allowed to publish the data regarding 4850/disability/early retirement for Deputy Sheriffs, I will do so. Perhaps a left turn, but an example of misuse of this "benefit" is Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers, After the Kelly Thomas incident he went out on a "medical leave" which turned into permanent disabilty to the tune of over $200k per year for life, a large portion of which is tax-free. Many LEO consider his exit complete b.s. as do most of the public. These examples enrage tax payers, as you would expect. As I have repeatedly posted, public sector wages are available on line, so we have transparency now with respect to that often mis-quoted data.
Joker Joe September 25, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Perfect example why more money does not help. I would like to know who o.k.ed the permanent disability?
Joker Joe September 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
The fix is less spending. The fix is securing the border so citizens can jobs & get off unemployment and start paying taxes. The fix is making it so expensive for employers that hire illegals for contracting and other jobs that they stop it. The fix is getting rid of the scams on welfare. The fix is getting rid of the sanctuary state California is.
John B. Greet September 25, 2012 at 07:43 PM
"If I am allowed to publish the data regarding 4850/disability/early retirement for Deputy Sheriffs, I will do so." Thanks, good sir. As I said, in the absence of an ability to provide proof of one's asserted facts, perhaps it is best to avoid asserting them? In my view, Sellers should have lost his pension entirely. Rather than approve his disability retirement, the State should have deferred handling his case and allowed the City of Fullerton the opportunity to fire him for dereliction of duty, stripping him of *any* pension benefit, let alone a predominantly tax-free one.
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Not ignorant at all Bo Bo, I studied Prop 13 thoroughly. Yes, inflation was very high in the late 70's and house values were inflating too. Wages were going up at the same rate, but city and county governments had to raise revenues by the same amounts to keep their employee's pay rates close to the private sector. There wasn't much expansion of local government as you'd like everyone to believe, but it angered people like you to pay the same percentage more in property tax as you received in a wage increase, because such large increases are VERY noticeable. The problem and poster child for its passage was grandma. On her fixed income she was said to be in danger of losing her home since, unlike you, her pension didn't keep pace with inflation or property tax. To remedy that, lawmakers had already passed provisions so that she didn't have to pay any such tax until she or her heirs sold the old homestead. Actually she could have lived well on more money by deferring the tax. Have you noticed that no other state passed anything so limiting or unfair as Prop 13, and there were no huge problems such as, "many, many homes would of been lost to politicians because they used the property tax as their piggy bank." That's just silly. But California bit the demagoguery of Howard Jarvis, and now doesn't have the option to increase property taxes for school districts or municipalities in a crisis, while, over 34 years, those revenues have slowly choked off revenues to school districts.
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Continued: There are no other cities declaring bankruptcy except in California. In no other state has the primary and secondary education of children deteriorated so greatly - from a leader in the nation to 48?!! Doesn't that tell you anything? Or, as the saying goes, are there really "... none so blind as he who will not see." I could see this coming and tried to tell others at the time. When I had another child, I moved to Massachusetts which values education to a much greater degree. Although I love my native state, in retrospect, it was a very good choice.
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Seller refused his city councilor's requests for the surveillance tapes of the incident so as not to jeopardize the investigation. They later asked the DA and were again refused which confirms his decision was correct. But city councilors can't criticize DA's, so they politicize the issue with the chief, and the OC Register publishes it. Here's what the Register said: . "Sellers had been criticized by residents and some members of the City Council for not stepping up to more of a public role after the incident made headlines across the country."... . "Sellers' retirement coincides with the settlement of a worker's compensation claim he had with the city. As part of that agreement, Sellers will receive $127,500, plus $22,500 in legal costs. . "Chief Sellers' treating doctor and an independent doctor both said he was unable to return to work at his job," William McCormick, the attorney who handled the settlement for the city, said in a statement. "The settlement ended any potential liability for future medical treatment costs, which could be significant." . Sellers was reportedly a very good chief according to many, and his sin was not "handling the adverse publicity very well". He did nothing wrong, and admirably, didn't fold to political pressure to do something adverse to the investigation. Yet, you think he's somehow criminally liable for Kelly Thomas' death, and therefore he should lose thirty some years of contributions or his well earned pension because?
tiny September 25, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Old Chief, here is a chart of the growth of the California State Gov't General Fund from 1976 to 2012: www.dof.co.gov/budgeting/budget_faqs/information/documents/CHART-J.pdf At the same time the population went from 22 million to 37 million and inflation say averaged 5%. So you can see that state government has grown significantly since Prop 13.
tiny September 25, 2012 at 09:51 PM
whoops: www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/budget_faqs/information/documents/CHART-J.pdf
Old Chief September 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Worst States for Property Taxes The Tax Foundation found that homeowners in these states paid the most in property taxes compared to home value. The percentages represent the percentage of home value that homeowners pay in property taxes. New Jersey - 1.89% New Hampshire - 1.86% Texas - 1.81% Wisconsin - 1.76% Nebraska - 1.70% Illinois - 1.73% Connecticut - 1.63% Michigan - 1.62% Vermont - 1.59% North Dakota - 1.42% California was 33rd at about half #10, North Dakota's rate. http://taxes.about.com/od/statetaxes/a/property-taxes-best-and-worst-states.htm
tiny September 25, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Actually I just did the math and inflation growth of 4%, (more realistic), over 36 years brings the 11 billion to 45 billion, (infltion adjusted). Then 45 billion divided by the increase of population of 64% brings you to 70 billion. But the 2012 gov't revenue total today is 95 billion, which shows gov't is larger now than then.
Dr. Zillman September 26, 2012 at 01:35 AM
"Old Chief" Sellers "...did nothing wrong?" He took advantage of the "system." Like unlimited sick accrual, spiking, buying "air time", 4850 rigging...etc. etc. I didn't say he is/was criminally liable for Kelly Thomas' death. The court will be trying those who are accused. Many in law-enforcement, and particularly the public were justifiably pissed-off that the Fullerton Chief of Police went into hiding after a world news event unfolded under his watch. He went silent and into hiding instead of putting himself in front of his troops as a leader. To this day, no one has specified just what put him out of duty? Stress? Bullet wound? Back pain? Hemorrhoids? His medical leave was repeatedly extended until he qualified for permanent disability, which approximately 50% is tax exempt. If he lives to 90, he will have retired with over 6 million dollars.When the taxpayer is funding a lottery such as this, it's fair to say they have a right to know for what reason. Ridiculous by any measure.
Dr. Zillman September 26, 2012 at 03:19 AM
For Mr. Greet: "In my view, Sellers should have lost his pension entirely. Rather than approve his disability retirement, the State should have deferred handling his case and allowed the City of Fullerton the opportunity to fire him for dereliction of duty, stripping him of *any* pension benefit, let alone a predominantly tax-free one." Agree 100%, as do many residents of Fullerton. I am most interested to learn just what life-changing medical issue caused his "4850" or early retirement. I have read hints that it was stress. If that's the case, I call B.S.
Dr. Zillman September 26, 2012 at 03:32 AM
For those who enjoy data, give this a read: http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/06/25/ripping-veil-from-hidden-employee-pension-costs/157626/
John B. Greet September 26, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Well, so long as Sellers was otherwise qualified for a service retirement (5 service years and 50 years of age) it really wouldn't have been an "early" retirement, yes?
Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I am under stress..... Where do I apply????
Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Old Chief I remember when Prop 13 passed like it was yesterday. I was working and sucking wind because my wages were not going up as fast as my property taxes. Even then I saw the waste of money I contributed. I was close to losing the house and nothing you can say will change my mind. If the 2% increase a year maximum tax was not put in it would of been 5% or 10% or 15% increases. The legislature was going wild!!!! Even today homeowners are protected by Howard Jarvis's courage. I applaud that man which saved homes, lives and billions for homeowners. Last night I watched a program on tv "Frontline". It was about a school in Houston Texas. Drop out rate 81%. This high school was in a poverty zone and mostly Hispanic and blacks. The one hour program walked you through the one year semester of four students. In the 40 minutes I watched it, it never mentioned school poverty. It never said the school needed more money. What it did show was two of the students were slackers and as they put it, school bored them. One wanted and enjoyed school but on her schedule. She was smart but had family problems. Mom and dad were drunks. The fourth student was working an 8 hr. shift to help out his family while attending school. He got about 4 hours sleep. Two of the students had to be picked up and brought to school almost every day. One lived less than 5 minutes away. Say what??? The interesting thing is they all had the latest clothing.
Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Old Chief My wages were not going up with inflation. My contract, because I was with a union, was 5 years late and they were still negotiating. The contract went up maybe 1 1/4% a year if that... That was with TWA. I have no idea where you find a job that gave an increase to keep up with inflation. On top of that, you want to get ahead of inflation. If you don't, then you are treading water and will die working instead of retiring at a decent age because there are no savings to carry you through to the end, unlike Sellers. You mentioned we are ahead of only New Mexico and Mississippi. Is that because they also have passed prop 13?
Joker Joe September 26, 2012 at 03:59 PM
All Sellers had to do was sit at his desk and review papers, right? I mean he wasn't on patrol! He wasn't working under cover stings! He wasn't part of the swat team! My guess is he is doing more physical & mental things at home collecting the extortion money from tax payers then he would be doing if at his desk at the police dept.
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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