SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Despite labor outcries over public pension reform, a new University of San Francisco survey finds public approval for moderate changes, with the majority of people apparently okay with raising the age for benefits to kick in.

Despite continued concern over government cutbacks, 40 percent of those responding to the USF survey thought public pensions benefits were about right, while 38 percent said they were too generous.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

While pension reform remains a contentious topic for cities trying to make their budgets, 55 percent of the 1,200 Bay Area residents surveyed said they would be okay with raising the benefit age.

Max Neiman is senior fellow at Cal’s Institute of Governmental Studies, and a researcher for the USF survey. He said residents approved of a variety of reforms.

“It might involve a combination of give-backs that could be temporary,” said Neiman. “It could be more permanent changes for new employees. It might involve upping the age for new employees. It could be any number of things.”

The survey also found overwhelming confidence in public safety workers, yet those are the exact contracts that are creating big money problems for cities. He cautions unions not to bank on that popularity.

“So at the same time that the public safety personnel receive very, very high ratings from the public in terms of the confidence that they have, this may lead them to believe that they’re valued more than say other workers are, and perhaps should be treated differently,” said Neiman.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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