Monday, July 9, 2007

The Advocate Opinion Page blasts special retirement legislation

The Advocate Opinion page speaks out against unearned, unpaid-for retirement benefits for select, politically-connected groups of state employees.

Of the 400 or so bills from this legislative session landing on Gov.
Kathleen Blanco's desk, one involving retirement benefits
for probation and parole officers makes you wonder.
How could such a bad idea get so far?

A little background:

Years ago, state probation and
parole officers were given a choice of two
retirement plans.
One provides for a lower rate of growth in benefits in
exchange for an earlier retirement than allowed by another

In some cases, officers began to realize that
the second plan was a better deal, or the officers decided they
wanted to work longer for the state, so they paid the difference to upgrade their former years of service into the second plan

A bit more than 400 officers remain in the first plan with the lower
benefits-of their own choosing-but they've persuaded the Legislature to require
the state's retirement system to upgrade them to the second plan at no cost to
the beneficiaries.

This is blatantly unfair to their more numerous colleagues, but it also set a terrible precedent for future raids on the retirement systems.

The state already has a huge debt owed to pay for future retirement costs of employees.

House Bill 845 adds to the burden. The governor ought to veto this bill.

And if we were Blanco, we'd call up a couple of committee chairmen and floor leaders and ask them how such a bill got all the way to her desk, forcing her to be a back stop for basic financial good judgement.

The LASERS Board of Trustees has submitted a formal request to Governor Blanco that she veto House Bill 845. The text of the letter, accompanied by documentation of LASERS attempts to educate lawmakers about the dangers posed by HB 845, can be viewed here.