By Jon Ortiz
Published: Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Gov. Jerry Brown laid out a detailed plan to alter California’s state and local public retirement systems on Thursday – and immediately drew fire from his core labor constituency.
The details delivered to the Legislature on Thursday generally tracked with an outline he unveiled in October. Representatives of a union coalition hoped to negotiate what they consider a less severe package. On Thursday, they said they felt blindsided.
“To launch this bomb in the early stages of the legislative season can only be counterproductive,” said Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the union coalition Californians for Retirement Security. “The timing and severity of this was quite a surprise.”
Because the package of proposals amends the state constitution, it needs support from two-thirds of lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly to be put on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The centerpiece of Brown’s plan ends traditional pensions for state and local government employees hired July 1, 2013, and later. Employers would be offered “hybrid” plans that combine a smaller guaranteed payout with a more volatile 401(k)-type component.
“I think there’s a lot of really good stuff in the proposal,” said retired state Finance Director Mike Genest, who is now aligned with California Pension Reform, a group that is raising money for its own ballot measure.
While the unions and some experts have warned that hybrid pensions would devastate retiree security, Genest said that the idea is fair because “at least some of the risk is shared with the employee.”
Brown’s plan aims to replace 75 percent of an employee’s income assuming 30 years of service and a retirement age of 57 for public safety employees. Other workers would reach full retirement at 67 after serving 35 years.
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