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Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal Stalls

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal called for an overhaul of California’s state worker retiree health care system. It faces more than $70 billion in long-term debt. Seven months later, nothing’s changed.

The governor wants state workers to pre-pay some of their retiree health care costs and work longer before claiming benefits. He also wants the state to offer lower-cost plans. He’s trying to achieve those changes through labor negotiations.

The Brown administration is currently in talks with five of the state’s 21 bargaining units – but there are no deals. Bruce Blanning, who represents California’s state engineers, says his union is open to the changes.

“If it helps alleviate a problem by putting some money aside ahead of time, that’s okay,“ Blanning says. “It’s just a question of, if you’re asking working men and women to reach into their pockets and start paying the state’s bill, how does that get offset?”

Blanning says his members are looking for an increase in their overall salary and benefit package. The Brown administration declined to comment on the negotiations.