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Governor Brown Gets Partial Win in Pension Reforms

George Severson

Governor Brown Gets Partial Win in Pension Reforms

CREATED Aug. 28, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Jerry Brown has announced systematic reforms to California's badly underfunded public pension system that he says will save taxpayers billions of dollars over time.

Yet the governor failed to persuade lawmakers in his own party to give him some of the key changes he had requested last fall.

The reform deal the Democratic governor announced Tuesday does not include a 401(k)-style plan, greater independence for the board that oversees the state's main pension fund or a reduction in retiree health care costs.

Nevertheless, Brown hailed the deal as a landmark achievement and said it will make pension benefits for public employees lower than they were during his first term in office, in 1975.

He said the agreement assures that California's pension system will be "sustainable for the long term."

The state's two main pension funds, the nation's largest, have an unfunded liability of at least $150 billion.

Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) released the following statement regarding today's announcement of a comprehensive pension reform agreement by the Assembly-Senate Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions:

"The new pension agreement blends the key points of the Governor's plan with additional reforms advanced by the Assembly-Senate conference committee. Preliminary estimates project that this proposal will save the state tens of billions of dollars over the next three decades. I appreciate that the proposal involved public deliberation and incorporates bipartisan ideas. I agree with its common sense changes such as eliminating spiking and double dipping and the forfeiting of benefits for convicted felons. I understand that it also includes a number of programmatic changes aimed at cost savings, though I am not yet familiar with the specifics. It's essential that we eliminate loopholes and make program modifications that bring stability and sustainability to our public pension systems. Equally important is that the changes we make are fair to current employees and retirees, as well as taxpayers. I look forward to reviewing the proposal carefully."