Roper: A bad non-start for pension reform

By Rob Roper

The 2021 legislative session started out looking good for state pension reform. The treasurer and speaker of the House were talking loudly that fixes had to be made to the teachers’ and municipal employees pension and benefits programs as their unfunded liabilities were racing toward the $6 billion mark. They put forward the outlines of a potential plan.

Then the politically powerful unions trashed the plan, which would have required them to shoulder some of the financial burden for repairing the system, and threatened any politician who dared indicate support. Democrats, who firmly control both chambers of the Legislature and are the primary (or, nearly if not entirely the sole) beneficiaries of NEA and VSEA support, quickly caved.

The “punt” consisted of a study committee bill (H.449) to examine the issue in more depth, bring stakeholders to the table, yada, yada, yada. It contained the following language: “The members appointed pursuant to subdivisions (b)(1)(A) and (B) of this section shall appoint a House and Senate member as co-chairs, who shall call the first meeting of the Task Force to occur on or before June 15, 2021.”

This writing is taking place on June 23. If you think you missed that June 15 meeting, don’t worry, you didn’t. It didn’t happen. If you want to call up the members of the Task Force to complain, you can’t. They haven’t been appointed yet.

Shocked? Don’t be. If the Legislature hasn’t shown any interested in its legal obligation to fund the state pension funds for two decades, why would it care about its legal obligation to appoint the Task Force it created solely for the purpose of avoiding the problem for at least another year?

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain

One thought on “Roper: A bad non-start for pension reform

  1. This is a perfect example of the Legislature being unable to walk and chew gum at the same time………While the state employees’ retirement programs are steadily sinking into the quicksand of fiscal insolvency, the leaders of the legislature are fully engaged in patting themselves on the back for doing a great job in the last session.

    But let’s not get alarmed with the legislature…….They did override the Gov’s veto on non-citizens voting and passed a new law creating a totally new bureaucracy to track rental properties, which will cost millions of dollars a year to administer…….And it gets better, the new employees tracking rental properties will be eligible for state retirement benefits sinking the pension funds further into Red Ink.

    All of this legislative busy work will be muted by the soon to be implemented requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act…….An effort we’re told by President Biden, his Climate Czar John Kerry and even members of the Vermont legislature will have no impact on mitigating climate change.

    As Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine famously noted “What me worry?”……. Seems to reflect the thinking of those in Montpelier who are sitting on a $6 billion pension time bomb……..Yup, they’ll study it……Some day.

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