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Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that a nonprofit group's decision to scrap a proposed ballot initiative targeting public employee pensions does not alter his commitment to tackle that issue.

"We are committed to getting pension reform done," the Sacramento Democrat said in a news conference.

Steinberg said he anticipated the question after the advocacy group, California Pension Reform, announced Wednesday that it was shutting down its effort to place a pension initiative before voters this year.

Steinberg said he is committed to passing pension reform before adoption of a state budget this year.

The Senate leader said he intends to address all 12 points of a pension overhaul proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but added, "That doesn't mean we're going to do every point in the way he suggests."

Key elements of Brown's plan would raise the retirement age to 67 for most new employees outside the public sector and replace defined-benefit pensions with a "hybrid" system combining a smaller defined-benefit plan with Social Security and a 401(k)-style benefit.

"We think we can deal with the hybrid issue, we think we can deal with the retirement age issue," Steinberg said, without elaborating. "We're going to move forward and get that done."

As an example of how the Senate might alter Brown's plan, Steinberg said, "There are different ways to do a hybrid, for example."

"Our attention will be paid on making sure that when we do come forward with a proposal, it will not reduce benefits for middle- and low-income workers," Steinberg said.



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