Second hearing for sustainability bills at LCPR

The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) met Tues., March 15, to consider several bills including granting a second hearing for the TRA and MSRS sustainability bills.

As a first order of business, the LCPR unanimously approved HF 2807 (O’Driscoll) / SF 2536 (Pappas), which contains the retirement system administrative and actuarial assumption provisions. This bill will become the carrier bill for omnibus pension legislation.

After approving several minor bills, LCPR chair Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) asked MSRS and TRA to address the commission about the sustainability proposals and answer several questions that had been provided to the directors in advance of the hearing. O’Driscoll indicated that the commission would not be taking a vote on the proposal at that hearing, but wanted more information about the bill.

Dave Bergstrom, executive director of MSRS, and Laurie Hacking, executive director of TRA, testified about the necessity of passing sustainability measures this session rather than wait a year, as has been suggested. The cost of a one-year delay in passing sustainability legislation would be $106.5 million for TRA and $71 million for MSRS in foregone revenue from contribution increases and foregone savings from COLA changes. The directors pointed out that waiting a year could negatively impact the state’s bond rating since MSRS and TRA would be showing sizable funding deficiencies if no action is taken this year.

Members of several stakeholder groups testified in support of the TRA proposal, including Joan Beaver, Government Relations Chair for Education Minnesota Retired; Don Leathers, Legislative Co-Chair for Retired Educators of Minnesota (REAM); Louise Sundin with the Committee of 13; and Mark Schmiesing with Education Minnesota.

Jill Schurtz, Executive Director of the St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association (SPTRFA) testified regarding that fund’s sustainability bill, which includes employer contribution increases and elimination of COLA triggers.  Representatives of the St. Paul School District and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers offered testimony in support of the proposal.

The other measures receiving commission approval last night were bills affecting volunteer firefighters, an MSRS proposal to allow its board to extend disability application deadlines in cases of cognitive impairment, and a bill allowing MSRS to grant Rule of 90 eligibility to a small group of MnDOT employees.

courtesy Susan Barbieri, Minnesota TRA