Archive for Friday, January 6, 2012

Group studying Kansas pensions issues final report

January 6, 2012


— A Kansas commission studying pension issues has submitted its final report to legislators, recommending the state start a 401(k)-style plan for new teachers and government workers.

The commission's report was posted Friday on the Kansas Legislative Research Department website, a month after members approved their recommendations. But five of the 13 members submitted a minority report criticizing the proposal for a 401(k)-style plan.

The state pension system projects an $8.3 billion gap between anticipated revenues and benefits promised by existing plans through 2033.

Backers of the commission's proposal contend the state can't afford to keep guaranteeing workers' retirement benefits based on their salaries and years of service, as traditional plans do.

The commission's dissenters say starting a 401(k)-style plan doesn't do anything to close the pension system's long-term funding gap.


werekoala 6 years, 4 months ago

"The commission's dissenters say starting a 401(k)-style plan doesn't do anything to close the pension system's long-term funding gap."

-- Of COURSE it doesn't. You think the people who are pushing this give a damn about the long-term solvency of the state or the country?

These are the same jerks who burned the financial house down, then sabotaged the economy until their demands for billions in ransom were delivered. Now they're coming down from that high, and they're looking for the next big score. Public pensions are some of the last big funds that Wall Street hasn't been able to get their hands on. And sweet Jesus, are they salivating at the chance...

I'm all for people making a living, but when profit becomes your sole motivation, you are by definition, amoral. And I really don't want the same bunch of amoral jackals who have already traded away the strength of our national economy for bigger yachts and seventh houses to get their filthy paws on my retirement. Because I guaran-damn-tee you that without the pension benefit, I would have gone into a better-paying line of work. I chose to do something I am passionate about, both because I felt like it needed doing, and because I could justify sacrificing higher salaries in the near term because I had a guaranteed pension at the end of the line.

When we say, "Hey, why are these Wall Street a*holes getting bonuses with our tax money?", all I hear is, "Well... a contract is a contract..." But now that these jackals have had the benefit of my blood, sweat, and tears for the last dozen years, they want to say, "Psych! Ha ha, you fool, you believed our promises! That's your fault! Times are tough all over, y'know?"

News flash, jerks, times have been tough all along! They were tough when the wife needed surgery and the kids needed braces, and I was working 70 hours a week to keep us from going bankrupt. You know, the 90s, when private salaries were averaging double-digit increases each year and I was stuck at a max of 5% until I topped out? Yeah, those times were tough too. But I never had the audacity to say, "Hey, can I have that 7% that I'm paying into my pension back?"

If you're going to take back all the promises you used to lure me in and keep me here; I want to be able to take something back too. Then we can call it even.

You can have the money; I want my twenties and thirties back!

progressive_thinker 6 years, 4 months ago

+1. Well said, werekoala. When I first hired on with the state, myself and several of my coworkers were making little more than minimum wage. Many of my coworkers went to private sector employers where they immediately made double the wages, and got regular raises. There were a few of us that stuck it out, because we thought that we were making a difference in the world, and depended that the State would make good on the promise of a modest pension. It was the only way that we could hope to avoid poverty in our old age.

These days there is little motivation to work for the state, especially if the pension system is gutted like is being proposed. Cost of living allowances and merit increases have been nonexistent for years.

People need to understand that state employees are not a bunch of folks sitting behind a desk. State employees are aides in mental hospitals, prison officers, capitol security officers, grain inspectors, highway patrol troopers, and many others that do some of the most thankless jobs that exist.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Theoretically, they're not going back on your promise. They're just making darned sure that they force another financial crisis on the state in order to pay for it (or else to force someone else to reneg on the promise). My understanding is that the 401k plan would be for new hires, and they'd still be obligated to pay off your retirement - using a system that no longer had any incoming cash, since the rest of the retirements would be off in the private sector casino.

So it saves us taxpayers nothing. It doesn't solve the pension funding problem. It drives away quality workers. It makes old people eat cat food somewhere down the line. What's not to love about that plan?

1983Hawk 6 years, 4 months ago

State employees do in fact have contract rights to their current pension program. And the nonsense approved last year that would force them to choose either reduced benefits or increased contributions into the system is a prima facie abrogation of those contract rights. The new law is unconstitutional.

werekoala 6 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, but while these guys aren't nearly as clever and ordained by the Almighty as they tend to think they are, they ain't stupid, neither. Look at their pattern over the last 30 years. Today's profit creates tomorrow's crisis, and when you hold all the cards, "crisis" for everyone else spells "opportunity" for you.

Sure, they probably can't get away with yanking my retirement right now. Wisconsin reminded them of the dangers of over-reaching. Sadly, it also reminded them how inconvenient democracy is to their agenda, which is why they've redoubled their efforts to keep the "wrong people" from participating. But that's a tale for another day...

But what they can do is divert all the money that new hires would be paying in to the system towards themselves. That way, they get a bunch of money up front. And then, 20 or 30 years from now, when I'm retired and dependent on this money to support me...

It's a whole 'nother chance to manufacture a crisis, swoop in to take what little I have left, and force me to roll it in to the stock market just before it tanks after some coke-head frat boys lost the farm investing in a Nigerian e-mail scam.

And then they'll tell me to pull myself up by my bootstraps, when I'm too old to reach them. Screw these guys, they are transparently selfish to anyone who hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid, and they're looting the America their forefathers built while it crumbles around them.

coloradoan 6 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff werekoala on both sets of comments.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

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!!!

mloburgio 6 years, 4 months ago

Comparing pensions

A legislator retiring with an annualized pay of $85,820.52, and with 10 years' service, would have an annual KPERS benefit of $15,018.60, for a monthly benefit of $1,251.55, according to KPERS. If the retiring legislator had 20 years' service, the annual benefit would be $30,037.20, and monthly, $2,503.10.

The News asked some KPERS retirees about their pension benefits. Their answers varied widely.

A state employee who was a supervisor for juveniles on probation retired after 34 years with an annual benefit of about $25,000. A municipal wastewater treatment plant superintendent, with 24 years' service, estimated the earned benefit at $2,300 to $2,400 monthly.

A state social services worker in a supervisory role retired in 1995 after 15 years and draws a monthly KPERS benefit of $524. That is equal to the monthly benefit for a county-level commercial appraiser who retired at 65, vested at nine years with KPERS.


Kathy Mendenhall, a public speaking instructor at Hutchinson Community College and past president of the Hutchinson National Faculty Association, had not been aware of the annualized pay formula for legislators.

"Oh, wow," she said

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 4 months ago

Yup...after 22 years, I get a whole $605 a month from my KPERS pension. I retired over 10 years ago...have never gotten even a cost-of-living increase.

Plus I also put money for 20 years into a 401k-type plan through the State like these creeps are recommending (except the state put in no money). One guess how well that did thanks to the crash.

Fortunately I had other opportunities, but not everyone does. And the idea of counting on a 401k for your retirement with the greed in this country???

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Oh yes.....and be sure to send your thoughts to the wonderful Cmte. members who did such a bang up job for you:

William Buchanan

Edward Condon

Chris Long

Paul Seyferth

Richard W. Stumpf

Brian Winter">p> Fax: (785) 296-6718 rep@mitchholmes.comp>>

Senator Jeff King

Senator Laura Kelly

Steven Johnson

Representative Ed Trimmer

Rebecca Proctor

coloradoan 6 years, 4 months ago

So, how about a link to the report? (Please.) Thanks.

bballwizard 6 years, 4 months ago

My wife is a a teacher and she can retire when she is 54 and get $2400 a month KPERS. she brings home $3000 right now. All the while she has donated 4% percent of her paycheck. Now you tell me where else she can such a great deal???????????? No where. Hello this system does not work long term. Its not fair to the rest of us. I had two neighbors that worked for the Soil Service both making $75,000 a year plus they get 5 plus weeks each year of vacation and sick leave and they will also get a government pension that is close to what they are making now. None of funded by themselves. Goverment workers make more than private sector workers and the system is totally broken and it is collasping on itself. Its not whether they will change it, its when.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

The state has been theoretically making contributions to KPERS on her behalf which are also part of her compensation. Not just the 4%. She's earning $36,000 by your statement for a career that requires a bachelors and professional license. Seems the state's saving in more than one way on that one.

On top of that, when did she start working? If she started recently, you're mistaken. She can't retire when she's 54. They got rid of that perk the last time they cut benefits. If she started working after 2009, age 60 is the earliest she can retire.

average 6 years, 4 months ago

Really? $2400 a month?

For both KPERS Tier I and Tier II, you get 1.75% * years of service * final salary as your pension. Pretty darned straightforward. So, for her to be getting $2400 a month in pension on a $3000 a month final salary, she must have put in 46 years of state service. So, yeah, if she's been with the state full-time since the age of 8, she deserves an early retirement and a hefty pension.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 4 months ago

bball: why do you resent people with pensions? It was a deft deception when private employers "abandoned" their traditional role of providing for their employee's retirement. The system was based on the continued prosperity of American business. So what's the difference with a 401(k)? Now you get to bet on the continued prosperity of American business through the stock market which over the last decade has shown itself to be quite the casino. American corporations are doing just fine - but they aren't exactly passing on that benefit by way of increased stock value to you. As an aside - if you come back with "employers aren't responsible for your retirement," then explain the logic of how they are responsible for providing your health insurance?

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