Schwarzenegger Pulls Back on Pension Reform

April 7, 2005 ( - In a reversal of earlier policy, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has backed off his plan to privatize California's public employee pension system.

Instead, Schwarzenegger’s plan may wait until the June, 2006, election to be put on the ballot if lawmakers don’t craft a compromise measure in coming months, according to the Sacramento Fox Network. He had suggested putting the measure on a ballot before the 2006 election.

Schwarzenegger claimed that his change in course was due to “misconceptions” by firefighters and police officers that a change in the state’s defined benefit pension plan for public employees would strip them of death and disability benefits.

“Let’s pull it back and do it better,” said Schwarzenegger, according to the Fox station.Many public employees in more dangerous jobs have been concerned that ballot language opened possibilities of losing death and disability payments.

The state’s largest employee organization, the California State Employees Association, was quick to express its pleasure with the move, although it cautioned that the battle to save the defined pension system is not over.

The group’s president, J.J Jelincic, even went as far to pin the push to alter the program as part of a right-wing campaign against workers. “While the immediate threat is over, we recognize that this initiative by the governor was part of an ongoing national campaign by the right-wing to privatize Social Security and public employee pensions,” he said in a statement. “That’s why we must — and we will — remain vigilant.”

The state’s Governor had previously stated that he would support any effort to alter the massive defined benefit pension system (See Schwarzenegger Supports CalPERS Overhaul Efforts ).