At least it's over

by Pat Thompson, Council 2 Deputy Director on April 18, 2012

The 2012 Legislative Session finally ended with an all-night marathon that mercifully put a stop to endless brinkmanship. The mood soured several weeks back when three Democratic Senators (Tom, Kastama and Shelton) joined the Republicans to take over the floor and pass three previously dead bills, the worst of which would have closed Plan 2, siphoned $130 million from the Pension System and eliminated all the Early Retirement Factors (ERF’s).

In the end, and because of intense lobbying by our coalition of labor unions, it was only the ERF’s that took a hit. Here is what it looks like.

Employees hired after May 1, 2013 will be assessed a 5% penalty for every year prior to age 65. For example, 60-year-old employees with 30 years of service will receive a 25% reduction in their pension benefits. The penalty for the same current employee is 5%.

This measure had nothing to do with the health of the pension system or the current budget deficit. It was ideologically based. The bill also includes a study on what this will mean to employees who may have difficulty performing jobs after 30 years of service. That’s right, they’re directing the Select Committee on Pension Policy to study the bill's impact AFTER THEY PASSED IT!

Current employees are not directly affected by this measure but can no doubt expect a future attempt to undermine Public Employee Pensions.

House and Senate Democrats (minus the three above) should be thanked for their efforts. The Governor’s office didn’t help our case as most of the bad ideas were hers last year!

On the positive side, (yes, there actually is one) a jobs package was passed that will help generate 18,000 construction jobs that will help our state’s recovery.

Thank you for your calls and e-mails, you do make a difference.