To The Daily Sun,
This next week in Concord the Legislature will take up the contentious issue of approving the funding for possible wage increases for N.H. public employees. While we realize it has been tough sledding for these employees vs. increases in take home pay, they have been taking the taxpayers to the woodshed over he last three years with near 20 percent annual average increases by the employer to the State of N.H., to their previously grossly underfunded pension plan in exchange for the retirees giving up COLAs in their entirety. So with a compromise worked out by former N.H. House Speaker Bill O'Brien in a previous legislative session, N.H. state reps agreed to these funding INCREASES to try and get this pension fiasco out of the hole with these significant annual increases to the state employee's TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGES. Unfortunately some of the new fundings that have contributed to that pension trust rising from less than a 56 percent funding, ending in 2012, to at least some progress toward the 60+ percent funding ratio most recently reported by NHRS, have come from the state growing active participants by near 10 percent over the last five years. So while against AARRs this is a small positive, it also significantly increases the out years liabilities.
I would urge our Belknap County legislators to take a very hard look at funding a settlement with the state employees on wages from a TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGE increase perspective, and how much we are proposing increasing THAT, so that the constituency does not get the same old bamboozling about how woefully underpaid state employees are. I would also point out that while progress is being made on NHRS Trust funding, the fund still remains woefully under funded vs. the 80 percent funding most think tanks (i.e. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) regard as the minimum funding ratio to give a pension trust a healthy rating. Beyond that the OPEBs medical benefits etc. for retirees are still not even 10 percent funded.
I would also appeal to Senator Hosmer to examine the inherent fairness and propriety of the top 20 percent pensioners by pension amounts taking more than 50 percent of the gross annual distributions from NHRS whilst those lesser paid with generally smaller pensions in the public education industry continue to be providing the lion's share of NHRS funding and that financially unhealthy underfunding continues on at NHRS. Given that situation, it is time For Senator Hosmer, his Democratic allies in the state Legislature, and State Employee's SEA/SIEU President Gulla to step up and propose and back legislation to cap NHRS future distributions to NEW pensioners at near $90K/Yr with a 2/3rds of the cost of living incremental increase to administering such a cap. That is, create a cap and then raise the cap by a COLA and not provide any restitution of general COLAs which are COLA CREEP raids on the NHRS trust by those in the top 20 percent by distribution amounts. The portions of pensions that are attributable to failed AARR's simply are not portions of pensions earned by defining them beyond what is earned over and above the contributions inside these retirement trust funds. Once we get this pension situation under control and financially healthy we can then consider "more fair "salary increases in the total benefits increases for state employees.
- Category: Letters
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