Brown called his proposals like raising the retirement age and creating a "hybrid" pension system "eminently reasonable." And he urged reluctant Democrats to look at the bigger picture:
Brown: "We have a lot of things coming up in November. We've got to win the confidence of the people to achieve some of the other things we want to achieve. And without pension reform, I don't think we'll have the credibility to ask the people to do other things that are very much needed - and that you'll want."
In other words, Democrats had better pass pension changes if they want voters to raise taxes next fall. Brown isn't saying which tax increases he'll propose, but details of his ballot measure are sneaking out. Legislative sources say Brown's initiative includes a half-cent sales tax increase and higher income taxes on the rich.
Brown Goes Before Lawmakers to Discuss Pension Plan
For the second time this year, Brown took the unusual step of appearing before a legislative committee. On Thursday, he discussed his 12-point plan to overhaul the state's struggling pension system.
Senator Mimi Walters asked the governor why his plan doesn't deal with what some estimates have called California's half-billion dollar unfunded pension liability.
Walters: "That is, obviously, a
major problem that we have, and I just want your thoughts on why
your plan doesn't address it."
Brown: "Well, I'm trying to write a plan that I think has real possibility to get enacted."
Brown went on to discuss the potential legal and political pitfalls to his pension proposal. Unions could challenge benefit changes for current employees in court. And many Democrats already feel some pieces of the governor's plan go too far.
Senate President Darrell Steinberg says he hopes to pass pension changes within the first few months of next year.