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Field Poll: California voters support pension rollbacks

Californians support a variety of cutbacks to public employee pensions, including a cap on pension benefits and demanding workers pay more for their own retirement. But state voters are opposed to stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights, a new Field Poll has found.

The poll, released Thursday morning, comes as Republican lawmakers are trying to extract pension concessions from Gov. Jerry Brown as part of state budget negotiations.

"Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the way California voters view the pension benefits received by public workers," states a memo from pollster Mark DiCamillo.

Just two years ago, less than one-third of California voters said retirement benefits were too generous. Now, a plurality of those surveyed, 42%, say pensions are too high; 34% say they are about right.

The strongest support was for the notion of a cap on how much a retired worker should receive -- 73% of those surveyed said the state should establish limits on salary when calculating pension benefits. Other changes embraced by voters who took the poll included asking workers to pay more for their own retirement, increasing the minimum age that workers can receive a pension, cutting benefits for future employees and replacing the current system with a hybrid system that had 401(k)-style benefits instead of guaranteed pensions.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

 
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