Wednesday, February 13, 2008

West Virginia Teacher pension merger plan Proposed

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin wants to merge two retirement plans for school employees.

Manchin’s plan would allow teachers in the poorly-performing 401-k retirement system to join the state’s traditional pension fund.

But his plan sets a high bar that school employees must meet before the two plans could be merged. Manchin’s plan would require 70 percent of employees in the so-called “new” plan to vote for the merger. That’s not 70 percent of the employees who turn out to vote. That’s 70 percent of all 20,000 employees affected.

Senate Pensions Chairman Dan Foster said he understand what Manchin is trying to do, but that lawmakers may want to adjust some of his proposals.

The idea is to allow school employees back into the “old” pension system, without running up the state’s unfunded liability. Teachers can’t be forced back into the old system – a recent court case decided that. For this to work, a high percentage of the teachers would have to agree to come back voluntarily.

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