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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Pension fairness

October 15, 2012

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To the editor:

The states in the USA are complaining bitterly about the pension amounts that retirees are and will be drawing upon retirement and are making plans to lower the amount the state must contribute. The recession has hurt the state, but also in good times the Kansas Legislature did not pay their share.

I imagine that this will be an ongoing complaint and more states will consider reducing the state employees and teachers retirements. I think we are starting on the wrong end of the chain. I think the first order of this should be our presidents. Under the present formula, as young as George W. Bush is and also Barack Obama will be at retirement from the presidency in the next 20 to 30 years could draw as much or more than a million dollars annually in retirement. This formula was set up to give Harry Truman on his retirement a living income.

Our Congress who sets their own salary and retirement formula needs to have major adjustments to both their salary and retirement, also their time away from D.C. After all, this is taxpayer money.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

And take away the privilege of "insider trading" that those on capitol hill have graced upon themselves.

Congress people as shareholders is a conflict of interest that USA legislation cannot afford.

nativeson 2 years, 2 months ago

State pension plans were designed at a time that the age of the working population was much younger. The design is no longer sustainable. Retirement formulas were also set forth when life expectancy was shorter. We live longer, and more of the population will be retiring in the next two decades than ever in this country. Facts are stubborn, and it is important to address them while being fair to public servants.

tomatogrower 2 years, 2 months ago

It would have been sustainable had the state done it's job. The state had more than enough money during boom times to fully fund these pensions. There is no excuse, except their greed not to keep their promises.

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

Depends on who you are, and how you count the "average." Computer programmers will live longer. Factory workers will not. There's a five year age gap between the affluent and the poor. Furthermore, most of the huge gains we made in life expectancy were made in the 50s and 60s, and that's mostly because we found ways to keep children from dying. Ah, averages.

Facts are stubborn, and details are more stubborn.

Charles L Bloss Jr 2 years, 2 months ago

The congress and state legislature should have to live under the same laws they make for the people !! They should be under social security, and have the same medical plans they make for us. That goes for retirement plans, too. We have been screwed for decades by them. I do not think baby boomers retiring now and in the next few years will put up with it much longer. There are a lot of us.

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

Wouldn't make much difference nationally. I want to see the insider trading laws gone, gone, gone, but most legislators on the national stage are so personally wealthy that a change in their health or retirement benefits wouldn't have much impact at all.

On the local and state level, however, that might be an idea with some legs. I'd like to see them all under the most recent KPERS plan and no special extra days and other perks nobody else gets.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 2 months ago

Since January 1, 1984, new congressmen have contributed to Social Security and the FERS retirement system. This is the same plan as federal employees. To even become eligible for FERS, an employee would have to work for the government for 3 years. That would be 1 1/2 terms in the House. The amount of the retirement would be very small.

"The Social Security Amendments of 1983 required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security beginning January 1, 1984. As Social Security and CSRS benefits sometimes overlapped, Congress called for the development of a new federal employee retirement program to complement Social Security. This new plan was enacted as the Federal Employees' Retirement Act of 1986. This act created the FERS program, under which new Members of Congress are currently covered.

When the FERS program went into effect, all Members elected in 1984 or later were automatically enrolled in the new plan. More senior Members were free to remain under the CSRS or enroll in the new FERS plan.

Pension amount: The pension amount is determined by a formula that takes into account the years served and the average pay for the top three years in terms of payment. In 2002, the average pension payment ranged from $41,000 to $55,000. For example, a member of Congress who worked for 22 years and had a top three-year average salary of $153,900 would be eligible for a pension payment of $84,645 per year." - Wikepedia

Carol Bowen 2 years, 2 months ago

The president's pension is based on the salaries of cabinet members. It is taxable income. This method was established in 1958. I believe that would have been under Ike Eisenhower.

"Presidential retirement benefits were non-existent until the enactment of the Former Presidents Act (FPA) in 1958. Since then, presidential retirement benefits have included a lifetime annual pension, staff and office allowances, travel expenses, Secret Service protection and more.

Pension: Former presidents are offered a taxable lifetime pension equal to the annual rate of basic pay for the heads of executive branch departments, like the Cabinet Secretaries. This amount is set annually by Congress and is currently (in 2011) $199,700 per year. The pension starts the minute the president officially leaves office at noon on Inauguration Day. Widows of former presidents are provided with a $20,000 annual lifetime pension and mailing privileges, unless they choose to waive their right to the pension." - ASK.COM

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