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Politics

Pension Overhaul Meetings Begin

Little Hoover Commission executive director Stuart Drown testifies about the commission's recent pensions report at a joint Senate-Assembly committee Wednesday.
Ben Adler
Little Hoover Commission executive director Stuart Drown testifies about the commission's recent pensions report at a joint Senate-Assembly committee Wednesday.

A controversial proposal to overhaul California’s pension system got its first hearing before a legislative committee Wednesday.

The independent Little Hoover Commission’s report is drawing praise from the right and condemnation from the left. Its proposals include reducing future benefits for current employees, and looking at a hybrid pension / 401k model. But at a joint Senate and Assembly hearing, the commission’s executive director, Stuart Drown, didn’t back down when questioned by Democrat Fiona Ma.

“I think there has been an attack on public employees that are receiving pensions,” Ma said.

“Yeah, but not by this commission,” Drown said. “We are trying to establish guidelines here and a system that’s sustainable to protect public employee pensions.”

Still, Drown conceded that some of the commission’s proposals would be challenged in court – and might not survive. The recommendations could become a blueprint for Republicans looking for pension reforms in exchange for a budget vote.