Move To Rein In Retiree Benefits Costs Drawing Fire
Labor unions are coming out against a proposed ballot initiative that would rework eligibility criteria and compensation formulas for retiree health care benefits and pensions for California workers, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Former Assembly member Keith Richman is working to qualify a measure for the November 2008 statewide ballot that would:
- Delay providing supplemental health care benefits until retirees become eligible for Medicare;
- Raise the eligibility age for full pension benefits from 65 to 67, with exception of police officers and firefighters who could retire at age 55; and
- Limit pensions to 60% to 70% of employees' final compensation.
The measure would apply to new workers at state and local government agencies, special districts, school systems, and the California State University and University of California systems beginning on July 1, 2009.
Richman estimates that the measure would save more than $500 billion over 30 years, but leaders of labor unions say the measure is unnecessary.
Elizabeth Brennan, a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union, said, "What we really should be looking at is ... to make sure there is quality, affordable health care for everyone."
J.J. Jelincic, president of the California State Employees Association, cited reports from the Wall Street Journal indicating that pension funds generally are adequately funded and asserted that the pension situation is being overblown (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/26). 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.