Appointments Made to New Hampshire Pension Reform Panel

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On Wednesday, New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper announced the formation of a 14-person panel to study the state’s retirement system and potential reforms.

Rep. Jasper has now also revealed who will populate the panel, called the Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Plans.

From Patch:

Veteran lawmaker state Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, will lead the Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Plans.

State Rep. John Sytek, R-Salem, will assist Hess as the vice chairman.

Also named to the new pension committee were state Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare; state Rep. William Infantine, R-Manchester; state Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem; state Rep. William Ohm, R-Nashua; Rep. Frank Byron, R-Litchfield; state Rep. Mark Proulx, R-Manchester; state Rep. Jeffrey Goley, D-Manchester; state Rep. Daniel Sullivan, D-Manchester; state Rep. Patricia Lovejoy, D-Stratham; state Rep. Dianne Schuett, D-Pembroke; state Rep. Len DiSesa, D-Dover; and state Rep. Frank Edelblut, R-Wilton.


The committee will also look at the funding of public employee pension plans and programs; eligibility for participation in and benefits under public employee pension plans and programs; and alternative public employee pension plans and programs.

The New Hampshire Retirement System was 66 percent funded at the end of fiscal year 2013-14. The system manages $7.41 billion in assets.

Top New Hampshire Lawmaker Forms Pension Reform Study Committee

New Hampshire

New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper is forming a 14-person panel to study the state’s retirement system and potential reforms.

The committee was announced Wednesday. More from the Associated Press:

House Speaker Shawn Jasper is making pension reform a priority of the new legislative session by creating a 14-member committee to study the system that provides retirement benefits for public employees.

New Hampshire’s public pension system faces a $4.5 billion unfunded liability and Republicans want to reform the system. Jasper announced the committee Wednesday and appointed Rep. David Hess, a Hooksett Republican, as chairman.

The committee is made up of nine Republicans and five Democrats. The committee is tasked with studying how the program is funded, eligibility and ways to modify the system.

The state Supreme Court recently upheld changes made several years ago that increase the contribution rates for state employees.

The public pension system covers about 50,000 active and 30,000 retired workers.

The New Hampshire Retirement System was 66 percent funded at the end of fiscal year 2013-14. The system manages $7.41 billion in assets.


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New Hampshire Supreme Court Rules State Can Increase Employee Pension Contributions


The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled this week that the state can increase public employees’ pension contributions – even for vested workers.

Since the increased contribution rate wouldn’t lead to higher benefits for employees, unions had argued the state had violated its contract with workers.

A lower court agreed with the labor groups last year – but the Supreme Court this week overturned the lower court’s decision.

More details from Governing:

The state Supreme Court has sided with lawmakers who revamped the state retirement system in 2011, requiring public employees to increase their retirement contributions.

A Merrimack County Superior Court decision last year said lawmakers could not increase contributions for those vested in the system, contending it would essentially violate a contract between the employers and the retirement system.

The ruling said the new law would increase contributions but not change benefits, so it would violate the contract for vested employees, who are those having 10 years or more contributing to the system.

However, the Supreme Court said the law cited by the lower court in making its decision does not retroactively affect employee contribution rates.

“The narrow question before us is whether, by enacting RSA 100-A:16, I(a), the Legislature unmistakably intended to establish NHRS member contribution rates as a contractual right that cannot be modified. We hold that it did not,” wrote Chief Justice Linda Dalianis for all five justices.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling and sent the case back to superior court.

NH Retirement Security Coalition – an association of labor groups – weighed in on the ruling:

“The NH Retirement Security Coalition has long contended that promises made to our member employees should be enforced because our members uphold their promises each and every day that they go to work. The court’s decision today unfortunately allows public employers to renege on their promise of security in retirement. While this decision is disappointing, our members will continue to provide high quality service to the state and its cities, towns, and school districts,” the coalition said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned about the long term impact of this decision on the people of New Hampshire. We are carefully reviewing this decision in detail with our attorneys and members of the Coalition and we will offer further in-depth comment as soon as we are able to do so.”

Sen. Jeb Bradley, the architect of the 2011 law around which the case was centered, said he was “encouraged” by the court’s decision:

“I’m encouraged that the Supreme Court has upheld the right and duty of the Legislature to amend and improve the New Hampshire Retirement System. Unless we can address the $5 billion unfunded liability in our state pension system, both taxpayers and workers would be left with a huge financial burden,” Bradley said in a statement. “This decision affirms the Legislature’s ability to make the changes we’ll need to preserve the New Hampshire Retirement System, protect taxpayers, and maintain employee jobs.”

Senate Bill 3 increased employee contribution rates, required non-vested employees to work longer and changed the way their benefits are calculated.


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