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Archive for Tuesday, September 23, 1997

LEGISLATOR CALLS FOR KPERS ADVISORY PANEL

September 23, 1997

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A Lawrence legislator wants state employees to have more input about their retirement funds.

A state representative from Lawrence wants to take care of a common complaint that state employees feel out of touch about how their retirement funds are invested by the state.

"When I was going door to door last year during the campaign, a number of KPERS members showed me what they receive in the way of information from KPERS, and it basically dealt with how well the fund was earning," said state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence. "But the KPERS members did not feel like they had any say in how benefits might be provided."

Sloan has an idea he plans to present to the Kansas Legislature in January -- form a Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Advisory Council consisting of KPERS active and retired members.

The panel would provide input to the existing 11-member KPERS board of trustees. And it would provide more feedback to KPERS members.

"I'm not suggesting the board of trustees are not doing a good job of investing the money," Sloan said. "What I'm suggesting is the trustees should hear from the members. And that's why I suggested that we have an advisory council of active and retired KPERS members, selected statewide, across agencies."

The existing KPERS board of trustees does have two positions on it open to state employees. But members need a more widespread way of presenting feedback to the trustees, Sloan said.

There are now about 35,000 state employees who participate in KPERS. Kansas University's 1,600 classified employees are in KPERS, but faculty are under a separate system.

Last week, Sloan took the matter to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits.

Two KPERS members, Mike Auchard, chair of the legislative affairs committee for the KU Classified Senate, and Margaret Baker, a retired KU employee, both asked the committee to support the concept.

Each year, lawmakers approve bills, some good and some bad, that directly affect KPERS members and retirees, Auchard said.

"Usually you don't hear about them until they're signed into law," he said.

Auchard said the advisory council should monitor proposed legislation for members and provide input on legislation before it becomes law.

"I think it wouldn't hurt to have more input from people who are actually members of KPERS," Auchard said.

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