Bay Area Council Backs Gov. Brown’s Tax Plan

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)- The Bay Area Council is now backing Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed mix of spending cuts and tax extensions to close the state’s more than $26.6 billion budget deficit after a meeting Friday afternoon.

However, the business-sponsored advocacy group’s endorsement did come with a pitch on another issue.

Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman urged the governor and his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle to work together with them on what he called “unsustainable” public employee pensions and retirement benefits.

Brown retorted he would be keeping an open mind.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

“It’s very difficult to change pension rules for existing employees. There are vested rights under the constitution, although there are some lawsuits that will test the limits of that,” Brown said.

State Republican Party Chair Ron Nehring said the governor is missing an opportunity to fix an unsustainable system and called the governor’s pension plan an outmoded idea rooted from the ‘50s.

“He could have the credibility to tackle this issue even if some of the labor unions would be grumpy about it, but instead he’s chosen to roll over and kick this can down the road,” said Nehring.

Last month, independent state oversight agency, The Little Hoover Commission recommended freezing pension benefits for state and local government workers. Under their plan, payments to current retirees would not be affected.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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