A pro-rich, anti-government services bill

The House State Government Finance Committee approved the omnibus pension bill (HF 565) by a voice vote this morning and referred the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee.  Rep. O’Driscoll said the bill would likely be held in Ways and Means until global budget targets are agreed to.  Before approving the bill, the Committee approved an amendment to take TRA out of the pension bill as well as remove $5 million in annual state aid for the St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association and $4.5 million in annual state aid for the PERA Police and Fire.  O’Driscoll said the state aid was being removed because it violates the House’s current budget targets.

Julie Bleyhl, AFSCME Legislative Director, testified on behalf of the 20 organizations that make up the Public Employee Pension Coalition and indicated that the group supports a pension package with funding.

TRA’s Executive Director Laurie Hacking testified and emphasized the need to have a pension bill this year to address financial problems.  She stated that while the bill met the TRA board’s goal of financial stability, the bill did not meet the other goals of maintaining the recruitment/retention value of pensions and shared commitment.  Hacking pointed out that under the proposed bill, members (active and retirees) would bear 87 percent of the cost of the reforms (66 percent by actives and 21 percent by retirees).

Jodee Buhr, representing Education Minnesota stated that the organization supports the TRA proposal and supports being part of the bill.  She indicated that Education Minnesota continues to be at the table with other stakeholder groups to worked toward an equitable solution.

Courtesy of TRA Communications