Thursday, October 16, 2008

LASERS to try to level off Pension Plans

A second attempt at leveling the now-disparate pension plans of law enforcement members who work for various state agencies is planned by officials with the state employees’ retirement system.

“We have multiple plans for hazardous-duty employees and they are all broken,” said Cindy Rougeou, executive director of the Louisiana State Employees’ retirement System, called LASERS. “We need a uniform, comprehensive plan.”

LASERS is the umbrella system for most state employees, including those employed by the State Police, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, the enforcement division of Wildlife and Fisheries and some in the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, such as wardens, and probation and parole officers.

Even within those agencies, there are separate retirement plans for different groups of employees, Rougeou said. When one group gets the state to raise their retirement benefits, others want more too, she said.

“The state cannot afford that,” Rougeou said.

During the last legislative session, LASERS tried to pass a bill, called the “Haz-Plan,” to create one retirement plan for all its members involved in law enforcement.

The retirement benefit specifics have not changed in the plan, only which employees are included. The Haz-Plan would only involve new hires, so no unfunded costs to the state would be incurred, Rougeou said.

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