Reporting Jon Baird
LOS ANGELES (CBS)— A state legislative panel met in Carson on Wednesday in the first of what is likely to be several hearings on a hotly-debated topic: public pension reform.
KNX 1070′s Jon Baird reports the audience was packed with a number of firefighters, cops and teachers and other public employees fighting to hang on to payments they feel they deserve.
Many attendees at Carson City Hall voiced their fear that their public pensions are being unfairly targeted in these tough financial times.
“Pensions are not the problem, fiscal irresponsibility by public officials is the problem,” said Brian Moriguchi, president of the Professional Police Officers Association.
The so-called “Pension Truth Squad” noted that public employees have agreed to changes that are saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars in pension costs.
But according to committee co-chairman Warren Furutani, before that can happen they need to institute specific reforms to curb abuses like pension spiking and “double-dipping” where someone retires on a pension on a Friday, and get rehired on salary on a Monday.
“We need to do this more surgically with a scalpel, rather than with a meat cleaver or a sledgehammer,” said Furutani.
Public employees overall blamed government officials for mishandling pension funds and seemed to signal that early retirement makes sense for some workers such as cops and firefighters.
“If your wife and kids need police assistance, they’re being mugged, something’s happening, I don’t think you want 65-year-old police officers,” said one attendee.