Kansas Retirees Rally at Capitol Against Gov.’s Plan to Cut State Pension Contributions

Kansas Seal

Members of the Kansas Public Employee’s Retirement System (KPERS) gathered at the state capitol on Wednesday to rally against Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to cut state contributions to the pension system.

Kansas is facing a $340 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2014-15.

To address the shortfall, Brownback plans to slash state pension contributions by $58 million this year.

Additionally, the state would issue $1.5 billion in bonds, with money going to the pension system’s investment fund.

Pension officials have warned that the plan could have long-term consequences.

The Topeka Capital-Journal has more from the rally:

Dennis Phillips, chairman of the Kansas Coalition of Public Retirees, said lawmakers had a responsibility to deliver financial certainty to 280,000 Kansas teachers, judges, firefighters and others participating in the retirement program. Sidestepping state payments to KPERS doesn’t make sense, he said.

“We need your support,” Phillips told retirees. “The governor wants to remove $60 million from KPERS this year. It is real money.”

“How many more of these payments will be deferred?” said Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield.

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said actions undermining integrity of the system betrayed people who dedicated themselves to government service.

“Your pension plan, KPERS, was our commitment to you for standing up and taking these jobs,” he said.

Kansas PERS was 56.4 percent funded as of the end of 2013.


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Quebec Stays Course on Pension Reforms In Face of Mounting Protests

Canada blank map

Protestors are flooding Montréal streets in opposition of Quebec’s Bill 3, a measure that would freeze COLAs for retirees and increase employee contributions.

But the government isn’t willing to reverse course on their plan to lower the costs of the province’s pension system. Bill 3 is expected to pass within a month. From the Montreal Gazette:

The provincial government won’t budge on the proposed reform of municipal pension plans, Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau said Tuesday, three days after the largest protest yet against Bill 3 was held in Montreal.

“We are not in a bargaining situation,” he said. “The government and experts have said, in a report that was welcomed by everyone in the National Assembly, that there was an urgency to act to save those pensions. That’s what we’ve done.”

The minister said the government is done consulting interested parties, including union leaders, retiree representatives and the Union des municipalités du Québec, and has moved on to drafting the bill. Union leaders called the hearings a “farce.”


The government won’t necessarily wait for actuarial reports on the health of the pension plans to be published next month before passing the bill, Moreau added.

“Having the numbers doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything for the pensions that are totally under-financed.

“For example, even if I don’t know your weight, if you’re overweight I know you’re in precarious health.”

Bill 3 is part of a larger austerity plan to cut government costs and pay down a deficit of nearly $4 billion.

44 Municipal Workers Face Charges After Montreal Pension Protest

Montreal Pension protest
CREDIT: Russell Copeman

Dozens of municipal workers in Montreal are facing criminal charges after participating in a protest that left the city hall in shambles.

The protest stems from a proposed law, Bill 3, which would force workers to pay more into the pension system to cover funding shortfalls. From the Canadian Press:

Montreal’s police chief says 44 people will face criminal charges in connection with a rowdy pension protest inside city hall earlier this month.

Marc Parent says the charges will include participating in an illegal gathering, mischief and assault.

Around 250 unionized municipal workers stormed into city hall on Aug. 18, where they tossed paper all over the main chamber and plastered the building with protest stickers.

The demonstrators also unfurled a sign calling the mayor a thief, while one councilor alleges he was struck while others said they were sprayed with water.

More details on the controversial Bill 3, from the Montreal Gazzette:

Here is what Bill 3 would do:

—   Ensure that as of Jan. 1, 2014, all municipal employees would, retroactively, begin to contribute half the cost of their pensions, while municipalities pay the other half. (Some unions have negotiated better pension deals, where the employer pays 70 per cent and the employee pays 30 per cent, for example);

—   Ensure that employees and municipalities share the cost evenly of any pension plan deficits accumulated before Jan. 1, 2014;

—  Forbid pension plan costs from exceeding 18 per cent of payroll costs;

—  Allow cities to freeze cost-of-living increases in pension payouts to municipal retirees;

— Allow the province to appoint an arbitrator who could impose a settlement if negotiations fail to result in an agreement within 18 months. The arbitrator would then have an additional six months to impose a settlement.