The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 12, 2011
Poll: Government workers favor lower pensions for new hires

Californians, both those in government and those outside of it, support changing public employee pensions, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey.

A little more than 8 in 10 of those surveyed said amount of money government is spending on public pensions is a problem, with 44 percent indicating it's a big problem and 39 percent saying it's somewhat of a problem.

The most stunning finding in the poll is the response to this question:

"To address the cost of state and local public employee pensions, reforms have been suggested. Please say whether you would favor or oppose each of the following proposals. How about changing the pension systems for new public employees from defined benefits to a defined contribution system similar to a 401(k) plan?"

Nearly as many public employees (64 percent) as all adults polled (68 percent) favored such a switch.

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a so-called "hybrid" plan that blends defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. One of two measures backed by California Pension Reform would put new workers in a straight defined contribution plan.

Two-thirds of public employees said that pension benefits should be based on a three-year average of an employee's highest compensation instead of the highest single year. Just 60 percent of all respondents wanted to see that change.

Click here to download the PPIC poll. Pages 4, 15 and 30 lay out the results of the public pension questions.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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