Poll: Majority Of Voters Want Pension Reform For Calif. Workers

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An overwhelming number of Californians from across the political spectrum support plans to reform the pension system for public workers, according to a poll published on Monday.

The recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey shows taxpayers would back a referendum on Governor Brown’s plan to extend certain taxes in order to close the budget gap

70 percent of voters — includes 66 percent of self-identified liberals, 71 percent of moderates and 69 percent of conservatives — support capping both future and current pensions of public employees including teachers, police officers and prison guards.

Among people in unions or union households, 62 percent supported capping the pensions of both future and current public employees in order to help balance the budget, according to the poll results.

“Californians really want a vote on this,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and director of the poll.

“I can’t remember an issue that has exploded on the political landscape with the speed and force of the debate over public employee pensions,” Schnur said.

The issue of public employee pensions is a central element of budget negotiations between Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.

The poll was conducted April 7-17 with a sample size of 1,503 respondents. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.53 percentage points.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • Bebe

    I’m sorry, but people contribute to their pensions. They take a cut in pay to pay into these pension funds. It’s their money. I think it’s criminal that we in California are turning on each other rather than going after the high-level tax avoiders like the oil companies (we’re the only oil producing state that does not charge an extraction tax), big banks like Bank of America (which paid zero income taxes in 2010) and high income people that use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. They shift the burden onto working people and it’s wrong. We also need to amend Prop 13 so that big corporations pay fair property tax.

    • Cali_bigdawg

      Neocons need to do a little fact checking before they make wild comments based on opinions. BTW-This is a Republic not a democracy.

      The average CalPERS pension is about $25,000 per year. Half of CalPERS retirees receive $16,000 per year or less in benefits. Unlike the private sector, many CalPERS members do not receive Social Security, making their CalPERS pension their sole source of pension income, other than savings.
      Seventy-eight percent of CalPERS retirees receive $36,000 per year or less. School pensioners in the CalPERS program receive on average $1,079.00 a month.
      Only 1 percent of the nearly half million CalPERS retirees receive annual pensions of $100,000 or more. Many are retired non-unionized or specialized skilled employees or other high wage earners who worked 30 years or more. Many served in high-level management positions.
      CalPERS pensioners help stimulate the economy. A study found that pension income to 674,000 CalPERS and CalSTRS retirees generated an economic impact of $21.1 billion to the State’s cities and counties. The economic footprint of retiree spending rivaled that of the hotel and accommodations industry of the State in 2006. In all, California public retirees put back $2 into the economy for every $1 they receive in pensions.

      This statement compares a time when the State paid little or nothing during years of robust investment earnings and took a pension holiday to the recent market cycle extremes and current economic downturn.
      In 1981-82, pension contributions for the largest category of employees cost the State 19.6 percent of payroll. For the current 2009-10 fiscal year the state is paying 16.9 percent.
      The State of California pays less as a percentage of payroll today than in did in the early 1980s.
      1981/82 2009/10
      State Miscellaneous 19.563% 16.917%
      State Safety 20.409 18.099
      CHP 31.995 28.438
      School Miscellaneous 13.020 9.428

  • TT

    I understand the employees pay into them – but its not big oil in this case thats causing all the problems….. – that we can see anyway, its places like Bell, Vernon, Misuse of public funds -like with the housing issue that came up, the Hotel on wilshire that owes the city millions in bed tax, the parking facilities that dont pay their taxes – its starting to add up – everybody takes a little thinking no one will pay any attention – now all those little bits are adding up to one big deficit – We need accountability….This information has all been on the news in the last year if you watch kcal…And i hate to say it – but if you enjoy the benefits of working for the city – then you need take the good with the bad….

  • lou

    lets start cutting salaries, NO1. Los angeles city council. $179k per year plus Cola and perks, the double dippers like parks and Zine are raking in $500k per year, NO2.correction officers, raking in over 120k per year, then the fire captains and police cheifs.

  • Bebe

    You people are crazy if you want a race to the bottom in public salaries. Our local economy is driven by consumer spending — the less people make, the less they can spend. By racing to the bottom, you’re driving us towards third world status. Yeah, China has a great economy, but it’s a dictatorship and the majority of people in China don’t benefit one iota from the overall economic success. They live in dire poverty. That’s what this attack on public wages leads to. Secondly, yeah, you can find egregious abuses — but those people can be voted out of office and prosecuted, like the Bell officials. Private companies can’t be voted out.

    Closing our deficit is as simple as making it illegal for big corporations to dodge their taxes. Oil companies have seen a 41% increase in profits since last year. You know why? Because the commodities traders on Wall St. are speculating on oil and driving the price up. Yet these same companies pay no extraction tax in California. They are profiting from California resources, polluting our environment, yet not paying a single cent into our common fund. That’s criminal to me. Also, the Prop 13 loophole that allows big corporations to pay less on property taxes than you or I pay on our homes, that’s criminal as well. Make big corporations pay their fair share of taxes. That’s the answer. Not engaging in this race to the bottom in public workers. That’s just sickness, in my humble opinion.

  • Dave

    Dont forget to lump unions in the group of tax dodgers. SEIU Local 1000 brought in over $62 Million a year a did not pay one penny in taxes. They are tax exempt just like your local church. But unlike your church, SEIU is huge in the political world but if your preacher talks about being for someone or against a certain bill, then the church can lose its tax exempt status.

    Along with the unions are the other millionaire actors who limit the time they are in California, so they don’t have to pay taxes. Another loop hole.

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