June 27, 2016

Senate keeps up push to cut educators' pension benefits

A pension bill could be headed to a legislative committee that will hash out differences between the state House and Senate.

It's unclear what will happen next, but one thing that is clear is Senate leaders are trying to resurrect a pension plan that undermines the retirement security PSEA members and other public workers have earned and paid for.

In December, the Senate adopted a bill that made unconstitutional changes to the benefits of current educators, nurses, and state workers, while also cutting benefits for younger employees by as much as 18 percent. 

In early June, a bipartisan coalition in the House passed an amended bill that made no changes to current employee benefits and reduced pension benefit cuts for future employees. PSEA opposed the amended bill, although it showed some major improvements over the original Senate bill.

A conference committee
The next stop on this winding road may be a legislative conference committee.

The Senate set the procedural wheel in motion on Thursday by voting 31-19 to non-concur in the House amendments to the pension bill. Now it's up to the House to decide whether a conference committee gets appointed. Right now, it's unclear what the House will do.

If the House agrees to a conference committee, legislative leaders will name three lawmakers from each chamber (two from the majority and one from the minority) to on the committee. Those conferees would then be tasked with negotiating a compromise pension bill that gets an up-or-down vote, without any further amendments, in the House and Senate.

An attack on pensions
Some state senators think the amended bill passed by the House didn't go far enough. They want to attack the state's pension system, cut retirement benefits much more deeply, and put the financial security of the pension system at risk.

PSEA will continue to oppose any pension proposal that:

  • Cuts retirement benefits for current employees;
  • Eliminates our defined benefit retirement system; or      
  • Weakens the retirement security of current, retired, or future employees.

Stay tuned for updates
PSEA members should watch for email messages with further updates and calls to action.




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