Letters to the Editor

Saturday, Sep 01 2012 10:00 PM

Pension deal a good first step

By The Bakersfield Californian

The Californian's Aug. 30 editorial "Brown kicks the can down the road again" is incorrect and misleading.

AB 340 contains numerous state and local pension reforms. Most notably, it would require both current and new employees to pay half their retirement costs. Mandating current workers to pay a larger share of their own retirement is no kick in the head. Remember, teachers and most state employees already pay half their pension costs.

The full retirement age for new employees will be raised from 63 to 67 in keeping with Social Security law. Likewise, public safety employees will see their full retirement age jump from 50 to 57. This will encourage public employees to work longer. Teachers would have to work to age 65 to earn a maximum 2.4 percent service factor. The 3 percent service factor for police officers and firefighters will be computed at 2.7 percent.

Future retirement benefits will be capped at $110,000 if a retiree receives Social Security income or $132,000 if not.

The minimum age to retire with partial benefits will increase by two years.

Pension spiking is addressed in AB 340. Boosting a worker's salary in the final year of employment to ensure a larger pension will be eliminated for new workers. The practice of being able to purchase five years of service credit without actually working for it is also eliminated.

At a news conference in Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry Brown said the public pension reform deal would scale pension benefits "back to below where they were when I was governor at the time."

The unions do not like AB 340 nor do conservative pension reform advocates. This sounds like a Solomon agreement to me. This pension deal is a good first step.

Mark Salvaggio

Bakersfield

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