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Mayor Calls For Freeze On LA Retiree Benefits

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(credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called on lawmakers Wednesday to approve an across-the-board freeze in retirees’ health care benefits to offset a projected $350 million deficit in the coming fiscal year.

The mayor’s plan mirrors a similar measure criticized by Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento that calls for California to freeze pension benefits for current state and local government workers.

KNX 1070’s Bill Cooper reports Villaraigosa also wants the city’s fire and police pension board to reject a proposed 7 percent increase in retiree benefits.

Stuart Drown, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, told a legislative hearing Wednesday that California’s public pension systems face soaring liabilities as baby boomers retire and live longer.

The commission, which made its recommendations for reform in a report last week, said obligations to retirees will become unsustainable in the future.

Democrats control both legislative houses and generally support public employee unions. They say the commission’s proposal to cut existing workers’ benefits faces such legal hurdles that it likely is not worth pursuing.

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles chided commissioners for presenting a solution that “raises legal and constitutional red flags.”

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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