On politics in the Golden State
December 1, 2011 | 4:15 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown stepped up Thursday to defend his proposed overhaul of the state’s public pension systems against criticism from legal experts and unions, telling lawmakers it would save money without running afoul of legal restrictions that protect retirement benefits for current employees.

Brown appeared before a legislative committee that includes lawmakers skeptical of portions of his plan. Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), the committee’s co-chair, was among those who said the plan may be too far reaching, but the governor indicating that his proposal was not intended as an opening bargaining position to be scaled back.

“In my opinion, this is the minimum,’’ Brown told the lawmakers. “This is what makes sense, consistent with the law and even consistent with what I think the Legislature can get to. Its not easy because there is some reduction.’’

The governor told the legislators that action is needed to put the pension systems on firmer financial ground, but also to show good faith to voters. Brown plans to ask voters in November to raise taxes.

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