Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A three year history of Mississippi Republicans attacking PERS

  • In 2009 the MS House of Representatives passed a Constitutional Amendment to protect PERS from political influence. The Republican leadership voted against the Amendment. The State Senate led by Republican Governor Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant killed the measure.
  • In 2010 Republican Representative Steve Palazzo introduced a bill to end the 13th Check as we know it. Democrats killed the bill.
  • In early 2010 the Senate Republican Appropriations Committee Chairman wrote legislation that would cut funding completely for PERS if they actually did their job by raising contribution rates enough to cover the future benefits. The bill passed the Republican-led Senate. Democrats killed this harmful measure in the House of Representatives.
  • Senate Republicans then wrote a bill to create a PERS Study Commission without any state employees or retirees involved. Senate Democrats tried to amend the proposal to add retirees and state workers. Republicans in the Senate rejected the amendment. Then Democrats killed the harmful legislation in the House of Representatives.
  • Republican Governor Haley Barbour created the PERS Commission by Executive Order. He handpicked the chairman, a Republican Mayor. He put his campaign contributors on the Commission.
  • On September 22, at a Joint Legislative Budget Hearing, Republican Senator Billy Hewes said that he wanted to change PERS even though the Director of PERS testified that the current system is working and financially sound.
  • Lawyers for a Republican think tank presented a secret 13-page legal brief to the Study Commission that argued the state can cut benefits. Several specific ways were mentioned:
1.  Rollback of benefits to levels in 1999 (unless you already have 25 years of service on 7/1/2011.) This is a 5.63% BENEFIT CUT to a retiree with 30 years of service. 
2.  Shift from a guaranteed monthly benefit to a plan where your benefits vary according to the fluctuations in the stock market. 
3.  Raising the amount deducted from your check each month for the PERS contribution (without any increases in benefits). 
4.  Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 if you don’t have 25 years service before 7/1/2011.

  • On October 18, Republican House members issued a press release pledging not to eliminate the 13th check. They avoided any mention of the cost of living adjustment in the check, refusing to pledge not to cut the COLA. They refused to pledge not to abandon a defined benefits plan and move to a stock market based defined contributions plan.

1 comment:

Kingfish said...

How is it a secret brief when it everything submitted to them is a public record?