California Governor Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats who control the state legislature remain too far apart on how to overhaul the state’s public pensions to strike a deal before lawmakers break for summer recess, according to his spokesman.
Brown could not agree to parts of a plan crafted by Democratic lawmakers in response to his pension proposals, spokesman Gil Duran said.
“These complex issues cannot be resolved in two days and he has asked the legislature to continue to work with him over the recess to resolve the substantial differences,” Duran said.
He declined to provide details on their differences.
A spokesman for Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said talks would resume during the break so lawmakers could focus on completing two other key bills.
Lawmakers may push an $11 billion water bond measure on the November ballot to 2014 and are discussing legislation needed to move forward with the sale of voter-approved bonds for the state’s planned high-speed rail network.
Democratic lawmakers have been cool to parts of Brown’s 12-point plan for changing California’s public-sector pensions to reduce their costs.
The governor’s plan includes proposals for raising retirement ages for public-sector employees and having them cover half the cost of payments to retirement accounts.
Brown has also proposed so-called hybrid pension plans for new public-sector workers, which would combine traditional pensions and their guaranteed payments with retirement accounts similar to 401(k)s.
Pension costs have become a top concern across the nation as state and local governments contend with lean revenue and tight budgets.
Voters in San Diego and San Jose, California’s second and third most populous cities respectively, in last month’s primary election overwhelmingly approved local measures to alter pensions over the opposition of public employee unions.
The San Diego measure proposed the city offer 401(k)-style retirement accounts to new city employees, with the exception of police officers who will still be provided traditional pensions.
The San Jose measure proposed city employees accept reduced pension benefits or pay more toward their retirement accounts to maintain their current benefits.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he is prepared to take public pension reform directly to voters next year. “We're proposing it to the City Council,” he recently told Reuters. “If they don’t pass it, we’re going to put it on the ballot.”
Villaraigosa, a Democrat, said he also wanted to raise the city’s retirement age to 67 from 55.
As part of his pension reform proposal, Villaraigosa also wants to cap maximum pensions at 75 percent of salary and reduce the cost-of-living adjustments on pensions.
© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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