(AP) The state Legislature on Friday approved a package of changes to California's public employee pension system that is expected to save taxpayers billions of dollars, even as Republican lawmakers said much more needs to be done to fix a system with massive liabilities.
The main pension bill, AB340, passed 49-8 in the Assembly and 38-1 in the state Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated the reforms with the Legislature's Democratic leadership.
The legislation will increase the retirement age for new employees, eliminate numerous abuses of the system and require workers who are not contributing half of their retirement costs to pay more.
Brown said he supports the legislation even though it falls short of the 12-point reform proposal he offered last October.
"This is the most far-reaching pension reform in the history of California," he told reporters before the final legislative vote.
He said the package was a difficult compromise with many "contentious parties."
Lawmakers voted even as companion legislation was hustled up to make key fixes in the hastily written bill, which was taken up during the final day of the legislative session.
Some Republican lawmakers complained the process was rushed and preferred to delay a vote until the drafting mistakes were fixed. But several GOP lawmakers voted for it while saying the Legislature also needs to do much more to address an unfunded public pension liability of nearly $165 million.
"What we have before us is not pension reform, but a pension change," said Sen. Mimi Walters, a Republican from the Orange County community of Lake Forest. "While I will support this measure today, it is my hope that our vote today will be the beginning of achieving real reform and taking on the challenge of our unfunded pension liability."