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Brown says pension change 'not perfect,' a move in right direction

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Gov. Jerry Brown touted a cost-cutting measure on public pensions as historic for California, but acknowledged "it’s not perfect" and that further action may be required in the future.

Brown signed AB 340 in Los Angeles and told reporters in his unique way that it is a significant bipartisan accomplishment that will save billions of dollars.

"It’s the biggest pension reform ever in the history of the California pension system and, yes, it’s not everything," Brown volunteered. "It’s not perfect, because we don’t deal with perfection in politics. We deal with imperfection. And we have never done it quite so perfectly as we’ve done this particular imperfection."

Brown, who is eligible for a public pension himself, said the changes were needed, in part, because people are living longer. "This pension reform, its raising people’s age when they can retire," Brown said. "I have to say, speaking as a 74-year-old, I want to see people working longer, a lot longer, because I intend to do the same."

Asked why many of the changes do not affect current state workers, Brown said court precedents limit what can be done, as does the requirement to go through the legislative process. "We’re taking as bold a step as the process would allow," Brown said. "And where more is needed down the road, then more will be proposed."

The governor said it was a "hard-fought" battle to get most of his proposals through the Legislature.

"Government, like a battleship in the ocean, turns slowly, but we are turning today and we are turning in a very positive direction," Brown said.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento and Matt Stevens in Los Angeles

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown was in a jovial mood in Los Angeles on Wednesday after signing a bill that will reduce the state's pension costs. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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