03/12 - Redefining State Retirement

How can the system be revamped while keeping the promise to those who have provided years of public service?

The State of Louisiana is the largest employer in the state. Last year, employer contributions for public pensions cost Louisiana taxpayers $1.78 billion. This amount is projected to grow annually in order to fund the more than $18 billion deficit in the state retirement system. Governor Jindal has put forth several proposals to transform the system to regain solvency. But how will the changes affect current state employees and new hires? How can the system be revamped while keeping the promise to those who have provided years of public service? Watch “Redefining State Retirement” on “Louisiana Public Square” airing Wednesday, March 28th at 7 p.m. on LPB.

Backgrounder

With over 83,000 employees, the State of Louisiana is the largest employer in the state. The retirement systems covering these current employees and former state workers have accumulated more than $18 billion in unfunded debt. Last year public employees’ pensions cost Louisiana taxpayers $1.78 billion. Governor Jindal has put forth several proposals this legislative session to transform the system to regain solvency. How will the changes affect current state employees and new hires? And can the system be revamped without breaking the promise to those who have provided years of public service? Watch “Redefining State Retirement” on “Louisiana Public Square” Wednesday, March 28th at 7 p.m. on LPB HD.

Panelists include:
- Frank Jobert, Executive Director, Retired State Employees Association
- Robert Travis Scott, President, Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana
- Allen Reynolds, Former State Civil Service Director & RSEA Board member


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This program was also funded in part by the Louisiana Forestry Association

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here is the lotto money going u never here about that . Why keep takein from the state employees. We already lost two years on pay raise. Now we have know rights

Posted by dannie labit  on  03/29  at  08:48 AM

I understand that the Govener states some changes need to be made in the State Retirement System. Is he willing to or going to make any changes with his retirement? He gets his after only 8 yrs.

Posted by audrey sanchez  on  03/29  at  08:51 AM

The State retirement system is a program where employees contribute a certain percentage of their income toward retirement. The Employer also contributes to this system on behalf of the employee toward the end fund which the employee will be compensated at a prorated rate up to 40 years after which 100% is earned and disseminated to the employee upon eligible retirement. SO, if this is true, then the only reason I can figure as to why there is a deficit in this system is that funds have been taken from the system by individuals who do not contribute to it. Who are these people, and WHY are they being allowed to draw funds on a system that they do not contribute to? Could it be our Legislators? The Governor? Please! Get out of my retirement! You don’t belong there!

Posted by Katheryne Laine  on  03/29  at  08:52 AM

Okay, so we’re talking about private sector companies who have done away with their retirement plans! Great! But, while you work for a private sector company, you’re contributing to Social Security! You’ve still got a cushion of sorts! What about those of us who have worked for the State our whole careers and have not (by way of contributing to LASERS, TRSL, etc.) have not contributed to Social Security? Where’s our cushion?! PLUS, our taxpayers bailed out the car companies that you are talking about! Hello! State Retirees and workers ARE TAXPAYERS!!!

Posted by Katheryne Laine  on  03/29  at  08:54 AM

New retirement programs should be for employees who are not currently in one of the state retirement systems. Stop the additional injuries by changing the program immediately for new hires. Thereafter, if someone does not commit for long term employment, and leaves the system they lose their eligibility to participate in the current programs and would need to join the program in place at that time for new employees. The state needs to meet their obligation. I was promised a defined benefit when I was hired. I am being paid about $25,000 dollars less than others with my equivalent years of expertise in my profession and further more and filling a position that is notoriously difficult to get people hired into. Meet the contractual agreement we made when I was hired, make changes for the future so there is a finite amount of time that these problems can continue to grow and don’t drive away people who are currently active employed state employees while they are younger as it means we will have to fund THEIR retirement promised monies for just that much longer.

Posted by Robert Baye  on  03/29  at  08:56 AM

I just watched the end of the presentation on state retirement. As a state employee, I am terribly offended by the smug attitude of Mr. Scott. It was obvious that he has no clue about the retirement system. I as most other employees have worked for less income due to the “benefits”. This governor has no respect for anyone and is letting power go to his head. We have had our salaries frozen indefinitely and reducing our healthcare and retirement benefits. I am one of those employees in the middle of my career. As for my planning retirement, I purchased 5 years of airtime as provided by the Legislature. That is $18,000 spent for NOTHING if this present legislation goes through. When are the Legislature and Governor going to apply cuts to themselves? We deserve better than the way we are being treated and as for the comments from the guy in the “private sector”, I bet his salary is two+ times that of an equivalent state employee. The education reform is just as bad and has received federal criticsm as well as local opposition.

Posted by D Mack  on  03/29  at  08:57 AM

Three issues that I did not hear address tonight that should be brought up concerning budget issues (I am sorry, but did not know that this special was being aired tonight and tuned in late so maybe it was address). 1. First issue, why are state legislatures getting yearly increases to their per diem salary over that last five years, when our state has been having budget crisis over that last 3-5 years? To me, there is a double standard here. State workers have not had any raises in several years and most state workers would maybe be okay with this for a little while until the economy picked up if this meant that our retirement and possibly insurance would not be touched. 2. Also, the current administration has created positions for some past elected officials in key areas of the state that seems to unify the power of the current administration. These are very high positions such as Dept. of Alcohol and Firearms with Troy Hebert, Nick Gautreaux was given a position in charge of Dept. of Motor Vehicles, etc…(all within the last year or two). In fact, the Moon Grufunk??? (not sure how you spell his name) has reported other such positions being created through out the whole state. I may be wrong, but are not these positions very high dollar positions? Why the need to increase government for some individuals or friends of the administration; yet, for the hard working 5—7 days a week common state workers we are being told there is no money for our retirement or for programs for the local citizens (like UMC Programs, etc..)? In fact, why do we hear all the time that the current administration is creating jobs for the private sector. Does the current administration not realize that the common LASER employees number between 40—50 thousand and the average worker supports his family on a state salary that on average is lower than the private sector with the same college degree for those fields that require a degree (teachers, social-workers,engineers, etc…)? Does the current administration not realize the most state workers went to work for the state to help Louisiana citizens with some type of service and for the benefits such as retirement and insurance for a family, not due to the wonderful pay? 3. Finally, I am tired of everybody stating that the state is paying money towards state employee retirement. Remember, that most literature on the subject of Social Security from an educated stand-point always stated that this income was only meant to be a supplement to help in retirement years (Social Security). Please note though, that the Private Sector matches as an employer some of the Social Security taxes when an individual is working for the private sector. So, in fact, some of the money being paid by the State Government towards general state retirement is just like if the state’s current employees were working in the private sector and the employer was contributing towards Social Security (which a lot of state workers do not even have Social Security, but as one individual in tonight’s broadcast stated, state employees pay a whole lot more than the average private sector worker towards their retirement versus Social Security). By the way, if retirement age is raised, state workers if they quit would be affected tremendously in that most of us has not been putting into Social Security and even if we could, our Social Security benefits would be limited due to the years of State Retirement when we retire because of the Windfall Elimination Act??? State Employees are really getting a raw deal.

Posted by Richard Suire  on  03/29  at  08:59 AM

i think the gov. is thinking about himself to make him look good and a lot of people will retire and nobody will want to work for the state he held my raise for going on 3 years that is 12 percent and now he wants us to work till we are 67 it does not make any sense let him put the money FORSTER took out of our retirement like they were suppose to and the senators and representative should stand up to the governor he is gone in 3 years it is going to hurt senators and representative when it is time for them to be elected again.

Posted by eldridge touchet  on  03/29  at  09:01 AM

Redifining State Retirement: I think all state legislature/governor need to take a percentage of their check and put it in the general fund and let us see how your money will work. As a “Good Faith” gesture, let the state employees see how the legislature/governor’s money provide them with a good example of how their retirement money will make the UAL grow.

Posted by Lisa M. Howard  on  03/29  at  09:03 AM

I accepted a job with the state for less money than I was making in the public sector because of the benefits that the state offered me. The first thing my “employer” took away from me was paid time off (a benefit promised at the time I was hired), then the payscale was restructed to remove pay based on educational level(another benefit that was part of the original deal). Now, we have not had a pay raise (cost of living or merit) in 4 years, and the state wants to change the ratio of retirement contributions….. Asking the state employees to pay an additional 3% of their salaries into the retirement plan while the state reduces their contribution by the same amount (or less) shifts part of the states obligation on to the employees. It does not matter how you couch the proposal, the end result is that state employees are being targeted to step up and pay for the privilege of keeping their jobs. If the state is in such a bind that we need to start reneging on salary and benefits for a portion of the state employees, I vote that we start by revamping the benefits, salaries and retirement of the elected officials. They made the decisions that got us into this mess.

Posted by Toni Pritchard  on  03/29  at  09:05 AM

I am a state employee. I enjoyed tonight’s program on retirement. It was very imformative. What was most interesting was to hear the panel’s views in the question and answer session. Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Joubert, and the gentleman from PAR were all excellent. I think that compromise is the key,and that state employees who are vested in LASERS should be exempt from any proposed changes. Personally, I don’t mind paying 3% more now, if I get something for it later. Overall, and excellent program. Can’t wait for the next one on this topic.

Posted by Arthur Williams III  on  03/29  at  09:07 AM

1. there is a plan to retire the UAL debt by 2029. follow it and stop the legislature from changing the payments 2. the Teachers Retirement system is the biggest part of the problem, but is exempted. this is ridiculous. state employees have kept up their end of the bargain. don’t put the teachers problem on us 3. the UAL problem is partially due to the mistakes of the legislature in the past. 4. any additional funds paid by state workers should be put toward the UAL, this is the stated purpose of the Governors bills state employees should not be required to fund the debt. because we did not cause the problem.

Posted by Joel Chatelain  on  03/29  at  09:09 AM

The show was shallow and the panel was biased. If LPB is interested in delving into this topic, then a reasonable attempt should be made at real investigative reporting. Reforming State Retirement Systems is a national Republican initiative and Jindal intends to lead the initiative. The Retirement Legislation has been introduced purely to enhance Jindal’s presence on the national Republican Party Stage. This crisis is a self inflicted wound caused by the repeal of the Stelly Plan during the Blanco and Jindal administrations. It is all about him, not what is best for the State of Louisiana or its citizens. It appears to me that if you change the structure of the retirement system as proposed, then what will happen to the vested employees who are 55 + and the current retirees? The answer is there will be no money to pay their retirement. The panel and the moderator were speculating on the legislation as they do not know the details or what this legislation will lead to. Can you say “National Health Care”. Robert Travis Scott was not truthful when he said Jindal was opposed to including State Employees in the Social Security System because the financial health of the Social Security System is in question. The real reason Jindal opposes Social Security for State Employees is that if they are allowed to participate in the Social Security System and a 401 K Plan, the cost to the State will be greater than the current retirement system. What do you think the impact on the State Economy is going to be if this legislation is passed and what do you think it is going to happen to small businesses in Baton Rouge and Statewide? Business Owners take for granted the money they receive from these citizens. Your moderator. Kirby Goidel, did not fulfill his role because he was noticeably in favor of the Jindal Retirement Legislation.

Posted by Tyrone Williams  on  03/29  at  09:11 AM

With the way the ecomony is,it is already hard to make ends meet with the little pay they get,then take 3% off of that.Will all the legislatures and the governor take a cut in pay also or nothing is going to happen to there salary.It is also unfair to change the retirement contract to age 67.If this has to change then start with all the new workers.Also,stop using funds set aside for one thing and using it for other things.The state would not be in trouble if funds were used the right way.The governo does not care about the people that work for the state he only wants to make a bigger name for himself.An if the state is in so much trouble, how did the legislatures thing they could get a increase in pay awhile back.

Posted by anonymous  on  03/31  at  08:58 AM

Why are state employees the ones being asked to make these sacrifices? I don’t see the governor’s office laying off their staff or being asked to consolidate services. State workers who are still fairly young will be looking for new jobs even though they have put in 10-20 years already. What will happen to state retirement when all these workers ask to remove their money from LASERS? Has anyone thought this through or is Jindal just trying to create more money for the general fund by moving money around?

Posted by Amy  on  03/31  at  03:05 PM

I want to know why there are so many top level appointments at high salaries.  If you can still make appointments and hire admin at high salaries, you can afford to leave us state workers alone.  We don’t make much and haven’t had a raise in over 3 years.  Not to mention that every year insurance goes up and benefits go down.  We are asked to cover the jobs of several employees because of hiring freezes and such.  Whey can’t the governor and other top officials do without for a change?!!  I have 20 years in right now and to ask me to take that much a cut is ridiculous.  If I was young and didn’t have so much time in I could probably find a job making a higher salary.  But as it stands I will lose to much and they know this.  They know those of us with many years are stuck and they are taking advantage of us!!

Posted by Kay  on  04/01  at  05:06 PM

For the panel: Are the Legislators retirement also being affected and sacrifices being made commensurate with the State Employees ?

Posted by Charles Webb  on  04/02  at  09:16 AM

One of the issues that I have as a retiree is that the LASERS system which has the least UAL of the four systems is essentially being asked to shoulder the burden of all the systems and so it’s employees are being asked to shoulder all the responsibility. This system has been able to get much better returns on its investments then all the other systems and also has placed consistently in the top of all retirement systems state and private for its fiscal responsibility.

Posted by Eddie Hadley  on  04/03  at  01:01 PM
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