Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa  Thursday called for an indefinite freeze of the health care subsidy for city employee retirees, and urged the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners to reject a proposed increase to retiree health care subsidies for sworn personnel.

“We need to face reality,” Villaraigosa said. “The city is facing a $350 million deficit next year and increasing benefits for retirees at the same time that we are laying off and furloughing current employees is simply irresponsible.”

The board has been planning to increase the retiree health subsidy by 7%, costing Los Angeles $4.8 million annually.

Villaraigosa urged the board to freeze the health care subsidy at its current level.

“Increases like the one the pension board is considering are steps in the wrong direction,” he said. “We need to reduce costs, not increase them. The proposal before the pension board will only drive us deeper into a financial hole.”

The mayor said he will work with the City Council to freeze the retiree health care subsidy for all employees starting on July 1, 2011.

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