Initiative Seeks Limits on California Health Care, Pension Benefits
A former state legislator and an Orange County official are working to qualify a measure for a 2008 state ballot that would impose new limits on health care benefits and pensions for retired public workers in California, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Former Assembly member Keith Richman and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach argue that California needs to rework its eligibility rules for government retiree health care benefits and pensions, saying that the state cannot afford the high cost of generous benefit packages in the long term.
The move is prompted in part by new accounting standards that require public entities to disclose the cost of retiree benefits. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) ordered a panel to evaluate options for the state to meet its long-term health care and pension obligations for retirees, and local governments statewide also are studying the issue.
The Legislative Analyst's Office says that the measure backed by Richman and Moorlach would:
- Raise the minimum age for state workers to qualify for full retirement benefits, including health care;
- Bar retired part-time workers from receiving health care benefits;
- Require the state and local governments to fully fund retiree health care benefits; and
- Reduce pensions.
Union officials are strongly opposed to the proposed ballot initiative.
To qualify the measure for the June or November 2008 statewide ballots, supporters must collect more than 694,000 signatures by Jan. 10. If it qualifies for the ballot, the measure would require only a simple majority of support to take effect (Woolfolk, San Jose Mercury News, 8/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.