Thursday, June 3, 2010

House Approves Bill Aimed at Reducing Pension Costs -by- Robyn Ekings

The Louisiana House on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 1337) that its authors say will eventually reduce the cost of the four state retirement systems by 70 million dollars. The measure, by Lafayette Representative Joel Robideaux, would increase employee contributions, the minimum retirement age, and the final average compensation on which benefits are calculated for employees hired on or after January 1, 2011. The systems named in the proposal are the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System (LASERS), the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL), the Louisiana School Employees’ Retirement System (LSERS) and the State Police Pension System.

“This is an attempt to shore up the systems,” Representative Robideaux told legislators, “and make sure they’re around for future retirees.” The combined debt of the systems has grown to more than 16 billion dollars.

If passed, this would be the second time new members of LASERS have been required to accept reduced benefits to address concerns about the unfunded accrued liability created , in part, by the state’s failure in the systems’ early years, to fund benefits promised to state employees. Act 75 of 2005 applied the first round of restrictions to new LASERS members. HB 1337 now goes to the Senate for debate.

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