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Brown Announces Pension Reform Plan, But Is It Enough?

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Gov. Jerry Brown announced a new plan Tuesday to reform California’s broken public employee pension system, compromising on some aspects of the plan he’d presented earlier.

Here are the key points:

  • It caps pensionable salaries for new state employees at just over $110,000, or $130,000 for some workers
  • It requires new employees to pay 50 percent of their pension costs, and it’s subject to collective bargaining for current workers
  • It rolls back retirement ages and pension formulas for new employees only;
  • And it ends pension spiking and double-dipping.

Public workers were not afraid to tell CBS13 how they really feel about a pension reform deal.

“I think it’s really crappy if you really want to know the truth, and it’s bulls***, sorry,” one worker said. “They’re trying to use public-servant employees as a piggy bank.”

Among some of the changes, the bill raises the retirement age for new miscellaneous employees from 57 to 62 and the age for new public safety workers from 50 to 57.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, the average American doesn’t expect to begin their golden years until age 67.

But the reform bill also rolls back pension benefits for current workers to when Brown was governor first time around

That was 1975. Marcia Fritz with the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility says the bill’s biggest benefit is the $2 billion in savings each year just by requiring new and – over time – current employees to pay half the cost of their pensions.

“We’re looking for the average employee that’s paying nothing for their pension will have to pay at least $300 a month more than what they’re paying right now, which is zero,” she said.

And Fritz says if a deal with current employees can’t be hammered out over the next five years, the bill mandates the funds be automatically withdrawn from workers’ pay.

It’s a pension reform plan workers will no doubt feel, but one that does not go as far as Brown first called for.

“The question’s going to be do the voters think Brown went far enough on this proposal?” Fritz asked.

The reform plan will be brought before a vote of the Legislature on Friday.

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