Brown Releases Plan For Calif. Pension Changes

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown released a 12-point proposal to revamp California’s public-employee pensions Thursday, drawing immediate outcry from state workers complaining that it asks too much and from Republican lawmakers who said it doesn’t go far enough.

The proposals target practices that critics say drive up costs for taxpayers and provide public-sector workers with far more generous benefits than private workers receive.

The package includes specific bill language to limit pension spiking, the practice of boosting pension benefits with a big raise in the last year before a worker retires. Instead, pensions would be based on a three-year average of base pay, not overtime or unused vacation time.

It also would ban retroactive pension benefit increases, “holidays” when employers do not have to contribute to pensions, cash payments to raise pension benefits and paying benefits to workers who have been convicted of an employment-related felony. Brown’s package also would prohibit the state and local governments from paying an employee’s share of pension contributions.

Several other changes are still being developed, Brown said. They include a cap on benefits, limits on employees returning to government work after they retire and a shift toward a hybrid plan in which employees would be responsible for part of their retirement planning.

Brown, a Democrat, won election last year in part on a platform of pension reform, and much of that platform is reflected in Thursday’s proposal.

Republican lawmakers had pushed during budget negotiations for more extensive pension changes, but both sides say the talks broke down last week over other issues such as a spending cap and tax changes.

“We’re pleased to see that the governor is interested in pension reform,” said Sabrina Lockhart, spokeswoman for Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare.

Nevertheless, the said Republican lawmakers are unhappy that Brown is looking to run it through the Legislature, which could easily change the rules in the future, rather than put the plan before voters, where it would be much harder to undo.

“There are more protections for the taxpayers if the voters approve,” Lockhart said.

Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said the GOP supports most of Brown’s proposals but wants the public to vote on them and doesn’t believe a voluntary hybrid pension system will work.

“Governor Brown’s proposal assumes public employees will volunteer for lower benefits, which ignores reality,” Dutton said in a statement.

Public employee groups said state workers already have made pension concessions while negotiating new contracts that have saved hundreds of millions of dollars.

Brown’s proposals “fly in the face of collective bargaining law and amount to a breach of agreements that state government has made with millions of workers in California,” said Dave Low, chairman of a coalition of public employee unions. “California’s policymakers need to take a careful look at the billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy in our state budget before they launch an assault on California’s middle class.”

  • Richard Boyle

    Well, sure, it’d be great to put this before our oh-so-well-informed-and-politically-astute electorate here in CA since so much care will be taken on both sides to assure that we have objective facts rather than the partisan bull-puckey which is usually handed to us and which far too many of us beleive..

  • genomega1

    “an assault on California’s middle class”
    Now that is funny, many public employees today are in the top 20% of wage earners in the country.

    • dead_than_red

      Do you have any facts to back this up, or do you make things up as you go along?

    • Taylen

      I have a feeling you are quite wrong on this one. They aren’t even the top 20% in the state! There are probably a couple people in Mtn View, OC, Carmel-by-the-Sea and many other similar locations that have a few more coins in their pocket than those ‘damn teachers, police, and nurses who are ruining our country’! I think you need one of those teachers to re-educated you (or educate you for the first time?) on percentages…

  • Jon Smith

    Top 20 percent. Notttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt! Maybe with OT and not being able to spend time with their families. A person working at Google makes the same as a Cop or Firefighter who risk their lives everyday while Google blogs all day. Really.

    • genomega1

      Sorry but your post is illogical. I was a volunteer fireman, emt, paramedic for 20+ plus years. I never felt that my life was in jeopardy close calls a few. Paid firemen spend 95% of their time hanging out in the station, getting paid for sleeping and eating.

      • nonononono7

        tell that to the men and women of the law enforcement and firefighting community who died protecting you and your family. you’re a disgrace to even be a ‘volunteer fireman’. Tell that to the wives and children of the 4 officers who died at the hands of a person who raped a 12 year old.

    • Big G

      Yes really stupid, its a private company & not a state job funded by Taxpayers. Are you people really that ignorant in how things work. Google makes no claims to being a state funded corporation. No wonder this state is in such a mess. People who don’t think, follow blindly!!!

  • Dogalo

    Can’t we all get along? and not support the Big Greedy Unions, and help the little guys put food on their table.

    • mykie84

      Greedy unions! Niice comment, considering the unions should be thanked for most of the civilized working conditions we all have these days. People who complain about unions obviously don’t belong to one. If you think unionized employees get more than you, try organizing lin your own work place. Management wouldn’t/doesn’t always do the right thing.

      • Gary Steele

        That “thank the unions for your 8 hour workday” is about 90 years stale. Unions today are responsible for more graft and waste than any two major corporations combined. Yes, in the early 20th century, unions were a good thing, but by the 1970s they were corrupt thugs who didn’t care a bit about working people, only about how much dues they could extort from their members and how many concessions they could extort from business. Now all they’re good for is “that’s not my job” and “give us more money, more benefits, and less work or we’ll strike.” If I owned a business, I would immediately fire anyone who attempted to organize.

  • Scott

    Construction has been proven to be a far riskier business per capita than firefighters, and police. Their pay, and benefits has gotten out of sync with private industry. As a Carpenter for 30+ years we risk getting laid off while public employees have steady work. They used to make less, and are now in excess. While I think anything the working class gives back is a loss. The wealthy are winning the battle lateley and now know the must cut government expenses, or they will have to pay now that they’ve decimated the middle class. Therefore, these public employees must accept some cuts.

  • Matt Sloughter

    Police and Firemen have a choice in their jobs. The “Patriotic” entitlement of pouring tax dollars at police and firemen only makes those that support the cause feel good about themselves. Paying an exorbitant salary at someone does not provide you extra protection.
    For those that say we pay them high salaries for them dying on the job is bull. Tell that to the military person making $25K-$35K for fighting a war.
    Fact: If you lower the salaries of police and firemen, you would retain a majority of the current positions. To fill the potential vacancies at the lower level of pay, you would still attract persons with the same qualifications. High school graduate or GED, with “Some” college preferred.

  • Big G

    The biggest problem is that the Democrats only want it there way. They are so in the back pocket of Union Leadrs, that they can’t turn around without asking permission. Jerry Brown keepss saying its the minority’ that is casuing this problem. Actually it’s the same thing over & over . Blame, but don’t do nothing & when you do, do it on the smallest level so you don’t make the Unions who represent a fraction of the citizens of California!!! SOmething’s wrong here when that can happen!!!

    • dead_than_red

      Do you even read any of these articles or, do you just post the same old tired conservative mantra..?

      The GOP refuses to negotiate. REFUSES! To them, it is our way or the highway. Yet another gift to America; brought to you by George “you’re either with us or against us” Bush.

      Stop hanging out at the Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly memorial bar of stupid.

  • p schilling

    How ironic that Brown be the one to take on the monster he created. I hope to see him show a new found respect for reality this time around. Maybe after all his years of higher education he has figured out that if you declare war on business they go away and that’s not good. During his stint as attourney general I saw a painful lack of respect for both the law and the truth. Using spin to push issues in accordance with his agenda and pretty well not letting his job get in the way of serving his agenda. If a police officer or fireman applied his beliefs as did attourney general Brown, and life saving services were applied with the same discrimination, these lesser public servants would justifiably still be in prison. Now, our ignore the law, attourney general is again, the Gov.?

  • mechanic

    Jerry Brown is now; and always was nothing but an opportunistic Bum!

  • Mark Sinderson

    Can you imagine the mess we’d be in if Meg Whitman was Gov?????

  • mechanic

    Couldn’t be any worse.

    • Mark Sinderson

      Trust me, it would have been worse.
      I’m not a Brown fan either. Meggy Whitman must have been really bad to the eyes of Dems and Repubs to lose an election the way she did. It was a landslide by 10am. Repubs even voted for Liberal Moonbeam Brown.

      Meg never voted. She did not know the job description of Governor. Meg though she could run the political machine like EBay and command a budget. Meg did not know she had to negotiate with all parties.
      ps: I do give Meggy credit for one thing. She infused $200 Million Dollars into the California economy in a wipe loss campaign to Jerry Brown.

  • brenda

    well state worker aint got it that great cuz i no a family thats a worker for caltrans hes an electrician and they cant even pay him his wages he got a check for 165.00 and caring for a wife and five kids! union is doing anything nor the state the illegally took account recievables and docked him days union is for them self and this state should be ashamed of them selfs!

  • brenda

    isnt doing any thing to help these people(sorry i messed up alittle)

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