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California Governor Candidates Dodge Pension Cuts That Brown Foresees

  • Curbing public-worker benefits is tough lift for Democrats
  • Cities already under pressure from rising employee expenses
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

California Governor Jerry Brown said his successor likely would be able to cut public pension benefits when state finances sour. The fellow Democrats vying for his seat this year aren’t eager to wield that option.

Three of the four Democratic candidates in the June primary -- front-runner Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and state Treasurer John Chiang -- wouldn’t say if they would want that flexibility as governor. They also wouldn’t say if they think cities, many of which are struggling with rising retirement costs, should have that tool, which could be used as leverage in negotiating labor contracts.