Action on bills already introduced to force new school employees into 401(k)'s is one possibility. But some public employee unions are worried the Republican-controlled Legislature could go further than that before year's end, possibly closing some public pension systems at the state and local level, and curbing health care benefits for local government retirees.
Unfunded liabilities in public pension plans in
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Bills to address local government pensions have not been introduced, but conservative groups such as
"The first rule to get out of a hole is to stop digging," said
Complicating the issue is that unlike pension plans for state and school employees, local pension plans are diverse: Some are underfunded, but others are adequately funded or even overfunded; Some offer retirement health care, others do not.
Snyder told reporters Tuesday it's up to lawmakers whether they want to tackle the issue during the lame-duck session.
"We're not putting forward big proposals at this point in time," Snyder said. "We're really waiting to see how the Legislature would like to handle it."
Snyder said "some communities are doing well, others are struggling with these liabilities," and "there could be better standards and better practices, potentially" to assure the benefits local government workers are promised get paid.
Given the variations in municipal retirement plans, a state-mandated "one-size-fits-all" solution "doesn't seem to make sense," he said.
At the state level, Senate Bill 102, sponsored by Sen.
Ciaramitaro said it's a mistake to stop new workers from entering the plan to help support school retirees, and doing so will require the state to make significant annual contributions to shore up the plan to comply with
Starting in 1997, all new state employees were forced into 401(k) plans, and studies have shown the state is now paying a similar amount to obtain much smaller benefits for its retirees, he said.
Snyder said Tuesday he doesn't want to prejudge what the Legislature might do, but "the hybrid system has been working and I don't have any intention to really talk about changing that at this point."
Gideon D'Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker
"While pensions have long been touted as the hallmark of a secure retirement, public opinion has correctly moved toward individual retirement investment accounts as a better option," Lund said in a news release.
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