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Republicans file pension, spending measures, just in case talks with Jerry Brown collapse

March 24, 2011 |  6:06 pm

As Gov. Jerry Brown mulls his options on how to bring an election on taxes to the voters, Republicans are readying election measures of their own. GOP operatives filed two initiatives with the attorney general's office Thursday -- one to curb public employee pensions and another aimed at capping future state spending -- in the event Brown walks away from talks with Republican lawmakers and opts for a November special election.

"I want to make sure appropriate reforms join any potential November election," said former Assemblyman Roger Niello, the sponsor of the pension initiative. Niello, one of the Republicans to support tax increases in 2009, said he supports the five senators who are trying to broker a compromise with Brown. "My preference is that they work out a deal," he said.

Niello's pension changes are more modest than those first requested by the Republican senators. He wants to raise the minimum retirement age for all state workers to 62, and cap pension at 60% of a worker's highest salary. He also wants employees to contribute a larger portion of their salary to retirement benefits. Niello said he was confident there would be financial backing for his measures if a legislative compromise cannot be reached.

A spending cap and pension changes are among the issues Republican lawmakers are seeking in exchange for supporting Brown's plan to extend billions in income, sales and vehicle taxes. Brown reiterated Thursday that his preference is for a bipartisan deal, but refused to rule out a November election if legislative negotiations break down.

--Anthony York in Sacramento

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