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Richman Fighting For Government Pension Reform

Without a fix, local agencies are going bankrupt – Richman

Richman Fighting For Government Pension Reform

Without a fix, local agencies are going bankrupt – Richman

ImageFormer Assemblyman Keith Richman may have returned to a pseudo normal life after serving six years in the California State Legislature, but he’s kept one foot firmly grounded in state politics.

Currently, Richman serves as President for the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. In that capacity, he has been fighting to reform the state’s ballooning costs brought on by government employees’ pensions.

Government employee pensions have long been generous. As it stands now, the government employees are eligible to retire at age 55, and their pensions amount to 2 percent of their earnings multiplied by the number of years they have worked.

Richman thinks that may be too generous and he says that the financial ramifications are starting to affect local agencies.

“Grand jury reports from around the state show that a number of state agencies will go bankrupt if the present situation continues,” Richman says. “The money that’s being used to pay for these pensions is money that’s not going to pay for education, infrastructure investments or public safety.”

Richman has filed an initiative with the State Attorney General, and in the coming months it will be reviewed, and a title and summary will be drafted. After that, Richman and the Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility will be able to start collecting signatures to try and get the initiative on the ballot. 

If passed by voters, the bill would alter the way pensions are calculated for new government employees only. The changes would include cutting their percentage of earnings from 2 percent to 1 percent, and upping the retirement age to the same as when employees qualify for Social Security.

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Police and Fire officials, will receive smaller cuts, having their earning percentage set at 2.2 percent and allowing them to retire at age 55.

Should the changes take effect, Richman believes it could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming decades and be used to pay down some of California’s debts.

As for why he’s bypassing the state Legislature and heading straight to the voters, Richman says it because he has no faith the Legislature can pull it off.

“I don’t have any confidence that the legislature can resolve this issue. The influence of special interest groups on the decision making in Sacramento is just a corrupt process,” Richman explained.

Those opposed will include the powerful public employee unions, who defeated a previous pension reform bill drafted by Richman two years ago.