Gov. Brown Attacks Pension “Ponzi Scheme”

Governor pays a rare appearance to legislative committee to sell tough medicine.

Calling the current public employee pension system "a Ponzi scheme," Gov. Jerry Brown paid an unusual visit on state lawmakers at the Capitol this week to make a personal pitch for his reform plan.

Brown wants lawmakers to place his reform plan on the ballot in November of 2012.  It would boost the retirement age, increase contributions, and set up a hybrid system of benefits that would include a 401(k)-style plan.

Speaking to a two-house committee, Brown described his plan in colorful terms, referring to it as "castor oil."

"There's an intergenerational issue," said Brown, who is 73. "Speaking for the old geezers, we should be given our due, but not our overdue."

Complaining that the current system is unsustainable, Brown said, "I don't like these kinds of irrevocable commitments. I waited a long time to get married, at 67."

Brown also alluded to his pending plans to place a tax hike plan on the ballot, telling lawmakers that unless something can be done on pension reform, he and the legislature won't have the credibility to ask for votes on other issues.

Brown is expected to begin the process soon of seeking to qualify an initiative that would raise temporarily raise income tax rate on the wealthy, as well as a hike in the sales tax.

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