Apr 25, 2011 3:44 PM GMT
I'm curious how this translates at the polling and how strongly voters feel about this versus other issues. California tends to be a political outlier but as costs mount and given the high level of public sector employment, there could ultimately be some draconian cuts.
A cap on pensions and a later retirement age — even for current public employees — are supported by the poll's respondents.
Seventy percent of respondents said they supported a cap on pensions for current and future public employees. Nearly as many, 68%, approved of raising the amount of money government workers should be required to contribute to their retirement. Increasing the age at which government employees may collect pensions was favored by 52%.
Although pension costs today account for just a fraction of the state budget, they are putting local governments under considerable financial strain, and analysts say effects on the state may not be far off.
"It's pretty clear that there's broad support for making changes in the area of pensions," said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who co-directed the bipartisan poll for The Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Many public safety officers can retire at 50 with a pension equal to 3% of their final salary for each year worked — for example, 60% of salary after 20 years on the job. Many other state employees can retire at 55, with 2.5% of salary for each year worked. And tens of thousands of public workers may also purchase "air time" — credit for years they do not actually work — to boost their retirement income.