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The governor contends that this is necessary to enable the state and many local governments to gain control over burgeoning debts and avoid steep tax increases.

A poll by the Wisconsin Reporter last month found that 69 percent of Wisconsin residents were aware that public employees have better benefits than private workers, and majorities supported the governor’s plan to curb those benefits.

Florida is another state that last month started requiring its workers to contribute 5 percent to their pension plans, for a savings of $1.4 billion each year. Illinois, which has gone deeply into debt to keep up with its pension payments, last year raised the state’s retirement age for government employees from as low as 55 in some cases to 67.

Taxpayer groups are hailing the trend, while unions and their Democratic supporters are trying to halt it.

“Phasing out and eventually eliminating defined-benefit plans must be at the top of every state’s long-term fiscal planning,” said Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government. “There is too much at stake.”