Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters after the swearing in of Supreme Court Justice Joshua Groban on Jan. 3, 2019, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Sacramento.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown, who retired Jan. 7 after five decades of public service, has begun collecting his state pension. He is 80 years old.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown, who pushed to rein in public employee pension costs, has started drawing on his $120,000-a-year pension after decades of public service.

Brown officially retired Jan. 7 to his ranch in Colusa County and began drawing $9,994.29 a month after 33.5 years of service, according to Amy Morgan, a spokeswoman for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Brown, the son of former Gov. Pat Brown, began his political career on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees. Over a five-decade span, he served as secretary of state, mayor of Oakland, attorney general and a record four terms as governor, all of which counted toward his service credit at CalPERS.

Brown retired at age 80, which is 22 years older than the average retirement age of state workers. Among his legacies is a rebalancing of state pensions for hundreds of thousands of public employees, a fight he took all the way to the California Supreme Court.

Payments for public employee retirement benefits are putting pressure on government budgets throughout cities, counties and school districts in the state, so much so that Brown once called pension reform a “moral obligation.”

For comparison, Brown’s pension falls in the middle of recent governors. According to CalPERS, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waived his salary so he isn’t collecting a pension. Gov. Gray Davis retired in 2003 with 30 years of service and collects $140,767 a year. Gov. Pete Wilson retired in 1999 with about 12 years of service and receives $77,051 a year.

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Judy serves as hub editor of the California Divide project, a five-newsroom collaboration covering economic inequality. Prior to editing, she reported on state finance, workforce and economic issues. Her...