Archive for Friday, December 21, 2012

Kansas Chamber to seek pensions debate

December 21, 2012


TOPEKA — The influential Kansas Chamber of Commerce plans to push legislators next year to reopen a debate over public pensions and start a 401(k)-style plan for new teachers and government workers.

Two chamber officials said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that a further overhaul of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is on the group’s legislative agenda because they believe the current system is going to become increasingly expensive for the state to maintain. The chamber’s goal is to control state spending so that Kansas can eventually eliminate its individual and corporate income taxes.

The chamber plans to formally release its agenda next month, but Kent Eckles, its vice president of governmental affairs, and Eric Stafford, its senior legislative affairs director, provided details during the interview. The Legislature convenes its 2013 session Jan. 14, and conservative Republicans will have majorities in both chambers, with much of the credit going to efforts by the chamber’s political action committee to elect conservatives.

Legislators approved measures earlier this year and last year to deal with the pension system’s long-term funding gap, now projected at $9.2 billion through 2033. For teachers and government workers hired after 2014, the state is moving away from traditional plans that guarantee benefits up front, based on years of service and salary, but not fully toward a 401(k)-style plan, where benefits are tied to investment earnings by the pension system.

“We didn’t really get that done last year,” Eckles said. “For the first time, our board wanted to tackle that issue, because they recognize it’s a big cost driver. It puts pressure on the state to fund it and to raise taxes.”

The chamber expects to have a broad legislative agenda that includes tax and spending issues, as well as preventing public sector unions from using funds automatically deducted from workers’ paychecks for political activities. The chamber supported massive income tax cuts enacted earlier this year, and it will push legislators to keep moving the state toward having no income taxes.

But any push toward a state 401(k)-style pension plan is certain to meet fierce resistance from public employee groups, as it did during the past two years. Previously, Democrats and moderate GOP leaders in the Senate stalled such efforts, but conservatives ousted eight moderate Republican senators in this year’s elections, including Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton.

“Now with a new Senate, maybe we can move a little bit further,” Eckles said.


chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Didn't they establish that this would be incredibly expensive, since moving away from the pension system meant you had to fund it for the entire retirement lifetime of everyone hired before 2014 without any new money moving into the pension fund?

werekoala 5 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, they did. But these guys don't care about the state's budget. They think they can build their little fiefdoms and "Go Galt" and the rest of us will just keep the lights on for them. The real moochers in this country wear suits & ties.

But you want to know why a group of private industry big-wigs really cares so much about the pensions of public employees? Because those employees are the last living proof of how good ALL workers used to have things. They've been pretty successful, so far, at dividing and conquering by stirring up resentment between different groups of workers. But they're terrified that any day now all the private sector employees will stop thinking "Why should THEY get what I don't have?" and begin to think, "Why shouldn't I get what they have?"

Terrifying. Best kill it for good while you can.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

There's a lot of truth to that.

I would personally love if we moved both pensions and health care out of the hands of employers. Make Social Security pay enough to retire on or offer a common defined-benefit pension system that all workers could pay into. Make health care a single payer or through a system of highly competitive exchanges or a public option. Lots of ways to do, it, but out of the hands of employers.

If we did that, people would no longer be forced to stay in craptastic jobs because of retirement or health benefits. Small businesses would be a rewarding challenge to try without the regret of leaving that corporate position with the health plan and 401k.

The reason we won't do that? Because the Chamber doesn't want workers to have choices or small businesses to succeed. They want their workers trapped, cowed, and unorganized, and they want to pretend to support small business without actually being threatened by innovation.

tir 5 years, 5 months ago

Just further proof of who is really in charge of KS government now. Not Brownwhack, not even his ultra-conservative legislators, but the wealthy businessmen who OWN them, and through them, own KS, just like they planned. Just brilliant.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 5 months ago

"The chamber’s goal is to control state spending so that Kansas can eventually eliminate its individual and corporate income taxes."

The arrogance and sociopathic greed of these people is absolutely breathtaking.

bballwizard 5 years, 5 months ago

We need jobs and if you eliminate the Individual and Corporate tax we can get good paying jobs. Why else would you come to kansas???? for the great weather and scenary???? I dont think so.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Except for all the evidence showing that people and corporations don't tend to move based on tax rates, sure. Believe that. And if you believe hard enough, Tinkerbelle really will come back to life.

tomatogrower 5 years, 4 months ago

Corporations will set up dummy offices to make Kansas their headquarters, hiring only a handful of people, so they don't have to pay taxes or move to Kansas. Do you think Brownback cares if we have a lot of jobs????? I don't think so.

verity 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's turn Kansas into China. Yay!

Oh, that's right, China's workers are starting to demand better pay and conditions. We want to be China of last year.

verity 5 years, 5 months ago

The long range plan is to default on KPERS after they've gutted it.

Chamber, eventually there will be no one left to buy the stuff you sell. Stupid, stupid, stupid.


KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Brownback's dream come true is the state of Kansas full of sweat shops and the ultra rich romping around on the Flint Hills.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

Pensions are a difficult issue in many places, public and private. Muscular jesus started as a union buster on the shipping docks in the Northwest. Read up on Doug Coe and how he got his start. The Family's goal has always been to diminish or outright eliminate unions. "Bad for biddness, you know." There are now many Family-trained leaders in power. Muscular Sam is just one of them.

Pal 5 years, 4 months ago

Everyone needs to be employed by the government. Employing everyone, will mean more people will contribute money to the retired government workers government retirement plans.

Extrapolated government thinking on their theory of how economies work, is the only way to go.

More government union jobs means less work being shipped to the Chinese.

Alceste 5 years, 4 months ago

The Chamber of Conmen is getting involved? So it ain't so. Ok, don't. Will this Chamber of Conmen confront the reality of the way the KPERS recipient legislators PAY THEMSELVES???. Here are the FACTS as to how Kansas legislators make sure, ever so quietly, that they get PAID on the back side of their service......and one IS compelled to ask "Why aren't the progressives of Lawrence....people like Paul Davis, Barbara Ballard, and Marci Francisco remain ever so quiet on this fraud perpetrating not only on the voter, but on the true participants of KPERS>?>

And, did everyone know that our ever so dedicated Legislators in Topeka participate in KPERS, too? After all, they're state workers also. But, guess what? These legislators set up a very special system for how they get their KPERS benefits. Here it is in a nutshell:

Legislators have given themselves one heck of a sweetheart deal in how their own KPERS benefits are calculated. 372 days in a year! Leave it to a political hack to figure that one out!

For the legislator listing all income - the daily rate, subsistence and allowance - this is how annualization is calculated:

•$88.66 (daily rate) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $32,981.52

•$123 (subsistence) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $45,756

•$7,083 non-session allowance.

Altogether, that equals $85,820.52, and that's the pay figure that would be used for that legislator retiring now.

The Senate president and House speaker are at the top of the pay scale, and annualized pay for those posts could be as high as $99,859.74, depending on their enrollment choices.

This guy Morris who is the President of the Kansas Senate has even been quoted as saying he deserves that kind of KPERS benefit because he is so underpaid!!! Man, this is some amusing stuff!!! Aren't legislators supposed to be servants of the people? Isn't the common thinking that people run for office, not to get rich, but to serve? We sure do think stupid real good like in this state: The people who do the day to day work which make Kansas run have their KPERS figured one way.....and the galoots who pose for 3 months a year as "legislators" get to figure their KPERS benefit in a totally different the point where they've invented a new calendar: 372 days in a year and they work each and every one of them!! Woo Hoo!!!

Alceste 5 years, 4 months ago

Yeah....again.....why aren't "progressives" Paul Davis, Barbara Ballard, and Marci Francisco righting this very obvious wrong perpetrated on the good working people of Kansas.

Could it have anything to do with not one of three named are not part of the working class....but are, instead,.....members of that wealthy class our good President of the USA is referring to?

These "progressives"....follow their voting and their "habits" in the Kansas Legislature and you'll find they're really no different than Brownback and his ilk........shrug

oldexbeat 5 years, 4 months ago

do a background check on the previous employment of Eckles and others -- the long line to the center of power and money comes and goes from Washington for all these professional politicos -- Eckles doesn't list it much now but before returning to Kansas, he was on one of the Senator's staff, etc. None of these guys has actually worked in business. Sorta like thinking that Dr. Timmy Huelskamp is a farmer. Right.

Alceste 5 years, 4 months ago

Huh? Heck yeah, Dr. Timothy Huelskamp is from a farming family. They're so bad at it, a bunch of 'em are WELFARE recipients. Here's the proof:

cut this poor boy and his family a little bit of slack.

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