Apr 3, 2007

Sam Hunt explains vote on HB 2391, gainsharing repeal

In an email response to my open letter (which I also sent directly to Hunt, among others), he writes,
House Bill 2391 has been approved by the House Appropriations Committee. It is a compromise to replace gain sharing. While I would have liked to see gain sharing stay in place for current members, that is not a part of the proposal. A majority of the employee and retiree organizations who testified in committee gave their support to this proposal. I voted for it as well.

House Bill 2391 represents a 3-year effort to reform the pension plan system a) Public employees, teachers and current employees will give up gain sharing after a last distribution in 2008 b) This will be done in exchange for increased cost-of-living adjustments and improved early retirement benefits.

The last gain sharing distribution in 2008 will provide more than $700 million in project benefit increases after next year gain-sharing is eliminated for all employees.

Then beginning July 1, 2009, all current retirees will get up to a 13 percent increase in cost-of-living adjustments.

New hires in the Teacher Retirement System and School Employees Retirement System will get a choice of Retirement Plan 2 or Retirement Plan 3.

Public employees retiring after age 55 with at least 30 years of service will see improved early retirement benefits.
I thank Representative Hunt for his willingness to communicate with his constituents. I agree that the compromise is better than simply abolishing gainsharing, and I'm glad to see that incoming teachers won't have to be forced into Plan 3, the retirement abyss. However, I would like to see a true rule of 85 instead of the modified version given above. Let's reward those who serve without forcing them to burn down to the last ember.

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