McDonnell said Thursday he wants employees covered by the Virginia Retirement System to contribute 5 percent of their pretax pay starting next year.
That would negate a 3 percent raise proposed for 2011, effectively cutting take-home pay for state workers by 2 percent.
McDonnell's proposal would affect about 87,000 state employees and up to 130,000 local public school teachers.
Pension plans VRS manages face unfunded liabilities totaling $17.6 billion, thanks largely to 2009 investment losses. State government also deferred more than $600 million in VRS contributions this year to help cover a budget shortfall.