L.A. County Supervisors Delay Changes to Retiree Health Benefits, Pensions
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors temporarily suspended efforts to reform the county's retirement system after labor unions threatened to take legal action, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.
Unfunded Liabilities for Health Care, Pensions
During the supervisors' meeting, Gregg Rademacher -- CEO of the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association -- said the county will need to pay $26 billion to cover retiree benefits over the coming decades. ThatÂ figure includes:
- $21 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care; and
- $5 billion in unfunded liabilities for pensions.
Previous estimates for the county's retiree health care liability have ranged from $9 billion to $20 billion.
Los Angeles County CEO Bill Fujioka estimates that the county spends more than $400 million annually on retiree health care.
County supervisors planned to consider several changes to the retirement system, including:
- Increasing the minimum retirement age;
- Raising the amount that employees contribute to pension plans; and
- Modifying the formula for calculating pension benefits (Anderson, San Bernardino County Sun, 10/19).
Supervisor Michael Antonovich estimated that the proposals could reduce county spending by more than $200 million annually (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/19).
Blaine Meek, chair of the Coalition of County Unions, said the county's reform plan could be considered "an unfair labor practice."
Union leaders hinted that they would take legal action against the reforms andÂ said thatÂ county supervisors would face a challenging political process if they attempted to proceed with the proposed changes.
The supervisors' decision will delay any retirement system changes until the next round of contract talks, which is expected to occur in mid-2012.
Meanwhile, supervisors asked Fujioka to develop a series of options to guide future reform efforts for the county retirement system (San Bernardino County Sun, 10/19).
On Tuesday, KQED's "California Report" reported on local pension reform initiatives in various locations around the state (Dornhelm, "California Report," KQED, 10/19).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.