Pensions remain a hurdle to California budget deal (excerpt)
Sept. 28, 2010, Sacramento Bee, Kevin YamamuraGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have expressed nervous optimism about closing a budget deal soon and ending the state's record-long impasse.
But several contentious items remain, none thornier than the state pension cuts that Schwarzenegger demands be part of the budget package.
The Republican governor wants a two-tier system of pensions that reduces benefits with stricter retirement formulas for new state workers. He also wants to reduce pay by roughly 10 percent for existing state workers this fiscal year through higher pension contributions and unpaid leave days.
The rub? Democrats still insist that Schwarzenegger negotiate any reductions with the labor unions that have not yet struck contract deals. The governor, meanwhile, says lawmakers could impose cuts on their own.
Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced Thursday that they had agreed on a "framework" for a budget deal. But they emerged from a 90-minute session Monday without a grand compromise and said they would return today.
Three of the four legislative leaders, including both Republicans, cited pensions as a specific issue dividing the leaders...