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Letters to the Editor

Legal evil

December 30, 2011

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To the editor:

Richard Stumpf (Your Turn, Dec. 21) described the KPERS commission as a failure. So how will our state government fix this? One probable way is the Legislature won’t want to fix it, but will require us taxpayers to pony up with higher taxes and bail them out to further finance their retirement funds at the expense of ours. I am absolutely furious about this cronyism and lack of self-discipline exercised by legislators and other politicians.

For many years, I have had the opinion that legislators seem to be the root of much evil because they craft laws that enable people to do evil things legally. With this KPERS problem of early retirement, under-funding, shortened vesting, counting on continued unrealistic growth of the stock market without regard to market swings were all purposefully considered by legislators thus enabling legal golden parachutes for themselves and their cronies knowing very well that we taxpayers will be legally required to bail out this faulted unbalanced system. As individual legislators move on and are replaced by newly elected legislators, no one ever blames them for creating this example of legal evil lawmaking.  Thus, my other opinion, once electable, they seem to be already corrupt.

I realize that there are good legislators who have high moral standards and believe in crafting ethical laws. But, when the Legislature, as one single entity, creates legal evil without any regard to, or influence by its constituents and its highly ethical members, it corrupts itself as a whole.

Comments

budman 2 years, 7 months ago

That's story with so many things which the government does. Once an ill planned program gets set in place its near impossible to revise or do away with it. Especially something like a pension plan, any politician trying to improve it or fix it will be seen as a greedy man trying to take well deserved benefits from employees.

But the truth is, the plans a mess and offers benefits that would never be seen for people working in private sector, but is it's completely funded with their money.

I commend Brownback for taking on these issues. I say that any retirement plan for public employees should mirror that of the private sector, and they shouldn't be awarded any frills when its being paid for by the endless pockets of taxpayers.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 7 months ago

The public employees donate a percent of their pay towards the program. The legislature has never contributed what they were suppose to contribute, even when Kansas had a surplus. The surplus years ago would have fully funded KPERS, and would have allowed it to weather the present financial storm. Instead they gave tax cuts that were suppose to create jobs, but didn't. Still waiting for those figures on how many jobs were created by the tax cuts.

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budman 2 years, 7 months ago

If you look at many private companies, next to none offer pension plans still. Its outdated and the kansas public plan offers way to many luxeries which is afforded only because of the taxpayers.

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pace 2 years, 7 months ago

Many private companies have stolen their employees promised pension plans. Now you want the State to emulate them. State employees showed up for work, paid into the pension fund, luxury? It was part of the promised pay package. Forty years on the job and some tea nut thinks it is a luxury and unfair for workers to retire as promised. What is unfair is politicians spending money from pension plan and then suddenly being surprised the money isn't there and blaming the retirees.

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pace 2 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who thinks Union had a hand in Kpers debacle is real stupid.

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pace 2 years, 7 months ago

I am sorry I said anyone who thought the Unions had anything to do with the Kpers debacle was real stupid. That was unfair. If one did not know the history or circumstance of Kpers and had some sort of theory, that does not automatically mean they were stupid, simply ill informed and wrong.

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pace 2 years, 7 months ago

You are claiming the unions had a play in the Kper's debacle? Baa, that is weird even for you.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 7 months ago

First, we have never had a liberal legislature in Kansas, except at the beginning of the state's history when abolitionists were able to take control of the state. Second, this was a contract with workers. Workers contribute to this fund and are suppose to be matched by the legislature. For most of KPERS history there was enough money to pay the legislature's share, but they didn't. The workers had no choice, they paid, but they thought it would be part of their retirement plan, so most of them paid happily. Now had the adults been told otherwise, maybe they would have made other arrangements for their retirement, but they were lied to. So that's ok with you? And since a conservative Kansas legislature in a right to work state, with little union power did this, why are you blaming liberals? And do you really think that Brownback would have been elected, if the state workers all voted for liberals? I have worked in a state job before, and had to keep a low profile, because I am liberal. I was surrounded by conservatives.

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Charles L Bloss Jr 2 years, 7 months ago

I am retired on KPERS, and I am most concerned about my continued benefits. My opinion, most of them are crooks. They make laws that affect us, but not themselves. The reason KPERS is in such a mess is that the legislature stole money that they were supposed to be paying into the KPERS fund.

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nativeson 2 years, 7 months ago

For those retired on KPERS, they will not see any change in benefits from any proposals by the administration. The future of any defined benefit plan is in question. They were designed at a time when everyone was working. The aging population is now retiring, and the formula-driven pension system is simply unsustainable. It must be changed.

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imastinker 2 years, 7 months ago

KPERS is a bad idea - the entire concept of a defined benefit pension is bad.

I have a friend who is two years away from being vested in KPERS. We're both 29 and he's only worked part time in the summer through HS and college, hasn't done it in several years. I just went to their website and he can come back as a pharmacist for the state for two years before retirement and earn nearly 20k/year for life.

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jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

I think it's a very good idea, actually.

The problem comes when contributions, return on investments, and benefits are not correctly calculated (and/or when state contributions aren't made as intended).

I question your comments regarding your friend - it seems very unlikely to me that he would qualify for KPERS benefits under the circumstances you mention.

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SnakeFist 2 years, 7 months ago

Imastinker, your story is a stinker. If you have to make up stories to support your position, then maybe you should rethink your position.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

"I just went to their website and he can come back as a pharmacist for the state for two years before retirement and earn nearly 20k/year for life."

Since you've already found it, care to share the link that can demonstrate the basis of your claim?

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So_tired_of_the_whiners 2 years, 7 months ago

Hmmm...

Kpers annual payout is years of service x 1.75% x Average of 3 highest years of salary.

Working backwards. $20,000 = 5 years x 1.75 x ? That would be a $228571 salary job.

Your friend would have to be Lew or Billy Self for that salary...

I think he didn't use the website correctly.

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verity 2 years, 7 months ago

". . . he can come back as a pharmacist for the state for two years before retirement and earn nearly 20k/year for life."

Not mathematically possible. Not even nearly possible.

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SnakeFist 2 years, 7 months ago

The issue isn't as simple as the letter-writer makes it seem. Compared to private-sector employees, public-sector employees generally get less pay over the course of their careers in return for greater benefits and job stability. If you're going to cut the latter, good luck finding competent, dedicated public-sector employees.

Conservatives have engaged in several forms of class warfare, only one of which is against public sector employees. The irony is how many conservatives - especially older conservatives - hold their hands out for government checks every month from programs administered by government employees. At some point, average Americans will set aside their naive hypocrisy and realize where their real interests lie.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 7 months ago

This is so true. I know a woman, early '50's, who is disabled and receives social security for her disability. And of course she gets Medicaid. She worked for the state government and retired on a medical retirement, so she gets that money too. Her daughter has been in and out of the welfare system, probably her fault, but there was 1 really bad husband. This woman hates Obama and the Democrats, and thinks Brownback is wonderful. She can't get it into her head that if the conservatives had their way, she would be homeless and hungry. Even her church wouldn't help her. They expect her to tithe her benefits, which are barely enough to meet ends. I just don't understand why she votes against her own self interest. A job that she could handle in her condition and age is not going to open up for her if the 1% get more tax cuts. The 1% don't even want to have her around. She even believes the lies that children can't pray in school, and there's a war on Christianity. She's not an uneducated woman, so I just don't understand.

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Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 7 months ago

If the KPERS mess is anyone's problem, it's politicians and voters who think that they are entitled to pay the lowest amount possible in taxes. This is another aspect of the entitlement problem. The public is convinced that they are entitled to the services provided by the labor of the public sector, but they are unwilling to acknowledge that public sector workers should be paid a fair salary for their efforts.

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budman 2 years, 7 months ago

Well in this case the public sector workers are getting a much better deal than the private sector,, so actually its the public employees entitlement issue.

Should they entitled to early retirement, small vesting periods, or even a pension at all. Are they entitled to retire in one school district, receive the states pension, then move to another state and work again, which truth be told happened with many teachers at the high school I attended.

It's a problem of entitlement of the politicians, that they're entitled to as much money as they want from the hard work of the private sector. Since you're all for higher taxes, I'm assuming you've never had to pay any in your entire life.

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weeslicket 2 years, 7 months ago

please remember, when kpers was created, there were no such things as iras, roth-iras, etc. pensions were all people had. so, argue all you want about whether pensions are more/less good than more "modern" investment strategies, but please acknowledge the historical facts.

@budman: 1) are you able to acknowledge that public sector workers work hard? 2) re: "Since you're all for higher taxes, I'm assuming you've never had to pay any in your entire life." that's just a silly assumption. your statement = fail

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honestone 2 years, 7 months ago

FACT: Work for the state for 29 years making 10 -15 thousand less then someone in a comparable private sector position. Vested after 10 years. Pension = $22,000.00 per year

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