Texas Conservatives Push Pension Reform

Wednesday, 05 Sep 2012 12:29 PM

By Alec Weisman

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Leading conservatives in Texas are calling for the state to address pension reform problems next year rather than waiting for a crisis, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Although the state’s two largest pension funds are considered to be in good fiscal health, a report by the Employees Retirement System of Texas released Tuesday warned, “unfunded liabilities will continue to climb to an unmanageable level” if benefits for future retirees remain unchanged.
The Employees Retirement System has enough money to fund benefits for the next 70 years, according to a report cited by the American-Statesman, even though it only has 80 percent of the assets required to fully cover the state’s obligations.
Still, some conservative groups and Republican lawmakers suggest that moving new state  employees into a 401(k)-type retirement system similar to plans that now dominate the private sector would help avert future funding issues.  
Employee unions are opposed to any reforms at the present time. Seth Hutchinson, the organizing coordinator for the Texas State Employees Union, said the call for wide-scale pension reform is nothing more than "a wave of propaganda [and] fear-mongering."
Texas is one of the few states in which public employees lack collective bargaining rights and whose total compensation, including benefits, is less than the private sector.

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